Measures to improve sustainability can also improve safety and environmental performance . For example , introducing energy efficient lighting has environmental and economic benefits and often improves visibility , highlighting safety hazards . Yet , decisions around safety and the environment can be unsustainable . For instance , building pessimism into shielding calculations increases use of carbon-intensive resources , such as concrete and steel , and results in greater waste and costs at decommissioning . While this is a choice taken to protect people , the wider impact is not always recognised . On its own , valuing safety does not mean that an organisation is sustainable .
Sustainability and safety are not conflicting priorities . At Sellafield Ltd , sustainability is an integral part of what we do . Our current focus is on high hazard risk reduction and waste management , with our Strategic Objectives including Safe , Secure , Sustainable Site Stewardship and recognising that ' We are creating a clean and safe environment for future generations '. From the UNSDGs , we created a set of principles to embed sustainability into every decision we make . We aim to strike a balance between safety , the environment and sustainability .
Fulfilling Sellafield Ltd ' s mission requires a fleet of new waste treatment buildings and stores , creating one of the largest construction sites in Europe . Managing our historic legacy requires managing the creation of a future one . During the next phase of our activities , we can create shared value within the areas closest to us by increasing the scale and diversity of other economic sectors and by enhancing employment opportunities . We can also evaluate our environmental footprint . For example , the site will require between 350,000 - 400,000 m ³ of concrete over the next 10 years , creating a significant carbon footprint . This volume of concrete may seem
Radiation Protection Today Winter 2021 reasonable , given that nuclear operators like Sellafield Ltd must design for a variety of event scenarios across a building ' s lifetime , and allow for managing a diverse radiological inventory . As an industry , however , we are risk averse . Conservative calculations can become pessimistic , and this pessimism leads to an unsustainable legacy , increasing environmental impacts and costs .
On a global scale , estimates suggest concrete is responsible for 4-8 % of all CO 2 emissions . Over the last 40 years at Sellafield we have poured over 1 million m ³ of concrete , equivalent to constructing 400 Olympic-sized swimming pools . Rather than use traditional mixes , low-carbon alternatives were chosen that improved concrete quality . By doing this , over the last 12 months alone it saved 3 million tonnes of CO
2, achieving a 62 % reduction in carbon emissions . While this is
an excellent start , there ' s more to be done in reducing the generational impact . We need to reduce the volume of carbon-intensive materials we use , moving away from pessimism and looking for new ways to meet the same outcomes .
Tools already exist to enable the radiological protection profession to move further towards sustainability . ALARP ( As Low As Reasonably Practicable ) and BAT ( Best Available Techniques ) already help the profession make decisions that balance costs and safety , but they can also aid sustainability decisions by encouraging balanced and reasonable decision-making that considers the creation of future legacies .
As the world increasingly focuses on meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs , the radiation protection profession must follow . In managing safety and the environment , sustainability is already an integral part of the radiation protection professional ' s role . Now is the time to go further , striking the balance between conservatism and pessimism . By working together and finding new ways to protect people and our planet , we can build a better world for future generations .