Sellafield Radioactive Substances Activities (RSA) Major Permit Review

Closed 21 Dec 2018

Opened 26 Oct 2018

Published responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.


We have received an application from Sellafield Ltd to vary its Radioactive Substances Activities (RSA) permit at the Sellafield site in Cumbria. The RSA permit controls receipt and disposal of radioactive waste at the site.

Fuel reprocessing is due to come to an end at the site over the next few years. The site will see significant reductions in discharges to the environment. Sellafield Ltd needs to have new environmental permits to better reflect the new discharge levels and reflect the site’s changing focus from reprocessing to decommissioning. This is part of a major review of environmental permits at the site.

 The changes applied for are as follows:

  • some significantly reduced discharge limits
  • removal of some site discharge limits where discharges have fallen below significant levels
  • replacement of plant limits with plant notification levels to enable Sellafield Ltd to optimise discharge routing and the effective use of treatment plants
  • a two phased change to discharge limits to take account of the end of fuel reprocessing at the Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant (THORP) in 2018 and then its Magnox Reprocessing Plant in 2020
  • introduction of a 2 tier site limit structure after the end of Magnox reprocessing (i.e. upper and lower site limits). This will allow a time-limited increase to an upper limit (where necessary, providing an acceptable BAT justification is made)
  • introduction of a specific tritium limit for solid waste disposals at the on-site landfill (CLESA)
  • updating the permit to the latest template so that it reflects recent guidance changes.

Why your views matter

We are consulting on this application to give people the opportunity to understand the proposed changes to the permit and provide us with any information they think is relevant to our decision making.

Providing comments

We can take account of...

  • Relevant environmental regulatory requirements and technical standards
  • Information on local population and sensitive sites
  • Comments on whether the right process is being used for the activity, for example whether the technology is the right one
  • The shape and use of the land around the site in terms of its potential impact, whether that impact is acceptable and what pollution control or abatement may be required
  • Any incorrect information in the application.

We cannot take account of...

  • Issues beyond those in the relevant environmental regulations
  • Anything outside the remit of the Environmental Permitting Regulations. For example Government policy and Nuclear Decommissioning Authority strategies impacting on Sellafield operations
  • Whether a site should have a formal designation under Habitats Directive or other conservation legislation
  • Whether the activity should be allowed or not as a matter of principle. For example we will not consider whether spent nuclear fuel should be reprocessed or stored pending disposal in a Geological Disposal Facility
  • The impact of noise and odour from traffic travelling to and from the site
  • The legally defined process we follow to determine a permit
  • The granting of a permit/variation if the operator is able to demonstrate that they can carry out the activity without significant risk to the environment or human health.

What happens next

Once we have assessed all the information and responses received during the consultation, we will produce a draft decision document for the permit variation. We will address any responses raised during the consultation in that draft decision document. A further consultation will then take place on the draft decision.


  • Businesses
  • Charities
  • Statutory organisations
  • NGOs
  • Members of the public
  • Elected representatives, including MPs
  • Local councils
  • Academics
  • The nuclear industry


  • Business and industry
  • Waste
  • Permits
  • Nuclear
  • Radioactive substances regulations