NUCLEAR chiefs have asked for radiation rules to be relaxed ahead of an expected drop in emissions at Sellafield.

Bosses at the site have applied to the Environment Agency for a review of its permits “given the projected reduction in radiological discharges”.

The reprocessing mission is set to be completed in 2020, with the role changing to one of “decommissioning and environmental remediation.”

The Environment Agency has the power to grant permits allowing Sellafield to operate facilities leading to “radioactive” discharges.

David Moore, nuclear portfolio-holder for Copeland council, described the move as a “good news story” which showed “confidence” that discharges were dropping.

He said: “One of the biggest issues has been discharges in the Irish Sea, but this has started to reduce. I think it is notable that we have had no complaints lately from Ireland and Norway. It is right that we get the [radiation warning] levels set right.”

The proposed changes include the removal of specified site limits, which would see the “minimum number” of limits introduced.

Nuclear bosses also want to replace radiation “plant limits” with “notification levels,” to reduce the headroom on site limits and to introduce a tiered approach to site limits.

This week Copeland council’s Strategic Nuclear and Energy Board agreed to delegate authority to the chief executive Pat Graham, in consultation with Coun Moore, to form a response to the Environment Agency consultation on the permit review.

But members were keen to ensure that the Environment Agency kept a close eye on the decommissioning.

The response from the Board was due to form the response by today [December 21].

The Environment Agency will open another consultation in summer 2019 on a separate permit review.

This will take into account the potential impact on air quality caused by construction activity on the site linked to decommissioning and demolition.