The Environment Agency (EA) have announced that they are planning to approve the Atomic Weapons Establishment’s (AWE) application to to increase the quantity of volatile beta emitters that AWE Aldermaston is permitted to release into the environment. Beta emitters are radioactive elements that produce beta radiation. Volatile is a chemistry term which refers to a substance that tends to vaporise and become a gas. AWE’s application for the increase to the limit was announced in late January, and there was a consultation on the application which ended in February. The Environment Agency have now released a draft decision which approves the proposed increase to the limit. Under their current license AWE are allowed to release 4.4 megabecquerels (MBq) of volatile beta emitters into the air as gas every year. The draft decision allows them to increase the limit to 100 MBq a year, an increase of 22 times, or 2200%. A becquerel is a measure of the quantity of radioactive material. One bequerel is the quantity of material where radioactive decay will occur once every second. A megabecquerel means one million becquerels of material. The EA is running a consultation on the draft decision, which closes on the 6th June.
NIS 31st May 2018 read more »