Monday 5 December 2016

Now 'run-down' Sellafield poses new safety risk

Nuclear material in plastic bottles

Paul Melia Environment Editor

Published 06/09/2016 | 02:30

The Sellafield nuclear reprocessing site near Seascale in Cumbria, England. REUTERS/David Moir/Files
The Sellafield nuclear reprocessing site near Seascale in Cumbria, England. REUTERS/David Moir/Files

Radioactive materials have been stored in degrading plastic bottles and parts of the nuclear facility at Sellafield regularly have too few staff to operate safely, a BBC investigation has revealed.

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An investigation by 'Panorama' was told by a whistleblower that his "biggest fear" was a fire breaking out that could generate a "plume of radiological waste that will go across Western Europe".

The report comes after a number of incidents over the years at the Cumbrian site - just 170km from Ireland - which have raised safety concerns here.

The UK's National Audit Office has described the site as the "most hazardous" in Britain, with some of the 240 buildings "deteriorating" or falling short of national standards, posing "significant risks" to people or the environment.

But a 2011 Government-commissioned report, which cost €2.9m, ruled out any safety risk to Ireland.

The BBC investigation was prompted by a whistleblower, a former senior manager at the plant, who was worried about conditions.

Figures obtained by 'Panorama' claimed that between July 2012 and July 2013 there were 97 incidents where parts of the site had too few workers on shift.

Irish Independent

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