Friday, 8 February 2013

Un-regulated discharges of Depleted Uranium to the Environment at Eskmeals Cumbria

I noted this response from the Environment Agency about a FOI asking

"to see copies of the letters of agreement from the Environment Agency and predecessor to the Ministry of Defence for the atmospheric discharges of depleted uranium from VJ Battery at Eskmeals Firing Range, Cumbria."

The response from the EA  dated 8/2/13

Thank you for your e-mail dated 8 January 2013 regarding atmospheric
discharges at Eskmeals Firing Range.

We have made a detailed and thorough search of all the files we hold regarding the Eskmeals site, this includes records we hold on site and we have also recalled the older records in off-site secure storage and assessed these. We can find no record of letters of agreement between MOD and the Environment Agency, or its predecessors, on aerial emissions from the VJ Battery at the Eskmeals site. The majority of our regulation at that site relates to permitting and regulation of solid waste disposal or on the use of radioactive sources for testing purposes. We wouldn’t have considered the firing of military weapons for test purposes from the VJ battery as a disposal of radioactive waste and therefore not subject to our regulatory arrangements with MOD."

The response is surprising in that it refers to discharge in the context of disposing of radioactive waste rather than a discharge to the environment.
" We wouldn’t have considered the firing of military weapons for test purposes from the VJ battery as a disposal of radioactive waste".

The reply also talks in terms of "regulation" the EA has no powers to regulate since the Radioactive Substances Act is diss-applied from the MOD.

A previous post goes into the detail of the relationship between the EA and the MOD

"The response to this FOI request clearly shows the MOD failed to meet its own policy to seek letters of agreement from the EA when discharging substantial quantities of radioactive substances into the environment."

The reply from the EA shows that they have abdicated their responsibility to protect man and the environment so far as exercising proper oversight of the discharge of depleted uranium to the environment from the firing of DU at Eskmeals is concerned.  

This extract from the JSP 815 clearly shows how the MOD is clearly in the driving seat so far as the regulation, oversight of radioactive substances and control  of information are concerned.   


para 27
The Agency will consult the Ministry on any request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), or the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR), for the release of any classified (see MoU) or sensitive information (including paper and electronic documents) originating from the Ministry. Unless information has been provided by the Ministry on the specific understanding that it will be published, the Agency will first consult the Ministry to ensure that all factors relevant to an assessment of the balance of public interest are understood and taken fully into account.

28 Classified or sensitive information shall be managed in accordance with the Agency’s Security Management Procedure and the Official Secrets Act.  In order to minimise the requirement for the Agency to reply directly to FOIA/EIR requests involving classified or sensitive nuclear programme information, the Agency will be provided, where practical, with access to classified and sensitive information on a Ministry site rather than retain the information itself.

Footnote page 2: 6 For radioactive substances activities covered by this Annex, the Agency has no legal powers to enforce compliance.

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