Monday, 5 April 2010

Sellafield fined £75,000 for exposing staff to nuclear contamination

Contractors at nuclear plant received radiation dose while drilling through floor

Terry Macalister, Friday 4 December 2009

Sellafield nuclear power plant in West Cumbria. where workers were exposed to radiation. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

The operator of Sellafield, Britain's biggest nuclear complex, was today handed a fine and legal costs totalling more than £100,000 following safety lapses which led to the radioactive contamination of staff. The successful prosecution of Sellafield Ltd by the Health and Safety Executive will tarnish the reputation of an industry trying to win public confidence for a new generation of power plants.

The business, controlled by state-owned British Nuclear Group when the incident occurred in July 2007, has since been taken over by three private contractors, Amec, Areva and URS Washington, who work under the Nuclear Management Partners banner.

Carlisle crown court fined Sellafield Ltd £75,000 with a further £26,000 costs. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, which owns the Sellafield site which the consortium manages, said the fine would be paid by insurers.
Mark Bassett, the HSE's superintending nuclear inspector, said he was satisfied with the "relatively high" penalty imposed. "Although the radiation doses in this case were below the statutory dose limits, they could potentially have been higher. They should have been zero," he said.

"The incident highlights the importance of Sellafield Ltd following its own arrangements for protecting workers, when undertaking potentially hazardous work with the risk of exposure to radiation. Sellafield Ltd should have properly assessed those risks, and then appropriately planned, organised and carried out the work."

Two contractors were drilling an area of floor, under Sellafield Ltd's supervision, when they were contaminated with plutonium by the dust produced from the drilling, some of which they inhaled. There was no immediate impact on their health although they received a significant radiation dose.

A spokesman for Sellafield Ltd said last night: "This incident happened more than a year before Nuclear Management Partners (NMP) took over control of Sellafield Ltd, bringing with them a wealth of experience and expertise from around the globe.
"Since arriving on site, the new management team has introduced a range of initiatives aimed at improving safety and performance and has focussed on ensuring disciplined professionalism in all that we do."
In the past Sellafield Ltd has been fined up to £500,000 for more serious safety lapses and the HSE recently warned that the chances of a major incident were still too high.

Sizewell Anti-Nuclear Camp

Camp Against Nuclear New Build

Friday 23rd – Monday 26th April

The UK government is now talking about massive expansion of nuclear power in the UK. Sizewell is planned to be one of the first built.  The safety and disposal of radioactive waste has still not been solved and even without a nuclear accident radioactivity released from nuclear power stations causes cancers and birth defects. Economically, building new reactors makes no sense and will divert attention and investment from finding real solutions to climate chaos and achieving a secure energy supply.

Campaigning against new-build is stepping up. If we want to stop the next generation of nuclear power – NOW is the time to act. Come join us for a weekend of networking, protest and skill sharing.

To include- Friday at 2pm Sizewell beach car park- to set up the camp.
Demonstration  on Saturday 24th, 12noon – 2pm at the entrance to Sizewell A and B
A protest outside the gates of Sizewell opposing nuclear power and supporting the alternatives.
Public Meeting on Saturday 24th, 7:30pm at Leiston Community Centre

Some people from the camp will be explaining the reasons for the camp and recent direct actions at the NPS - including, why they are against nuclear power, the alternatives and the problems with the decision-making over the UK energy structure.

Workshops and Walks on Sunday 25th, At the Camp

Basic nuclear physics, What is Energy? Alternative Energy? , What’s Wrong With Centralised Energy?, What is so great about decentralised energy?, Wildlife spotting on the site where Sizewell C is proposed, and workshops on a variety of Campaigning Skills run by Seeds for Change.

A day of remembrance and activities. on Monday 26th, Meet 12noon at Sizewell Beach Car Park

Remembering the hundreds of thousands who were affected and those who continue to be affected by the Chernobyl disaster 24 years later.

The Camp on Friday 23rd, 6pm onwards until Monday afternoon

Getting There

Sizewell is on the Suffolk Coast about 8 miles from the A12 about 100 miles from Central London. The nearest train station is Saxmundham which is 7 miles from Sizewell. There will be people cycling from Saxmundham with a nuclear white elephant on Friday so please get in contact if you would like to join them.

The postcode for the power station is IP16 4UE if you want to look it up on the Internet.

What You Will Need

Food will be available at the camp (suggested donation £5 per day for 3 meals a day) so just bring the other stuff that you need – tent, waterproof clothing, ideas etc. It may be windy and the soil under tents maybe sandy. Disabled access is possible; contact us if you would like to know more on accessibility.

About The Camp

We want as many people as possible to feel comfortable at the camp, so please, if you have to bring alcohol, be responsible, keep it to a real minimum and no loud music please – successful campaigns need support from the people who live locally! The camp will not be run for you but by you so please be prepared to help
out with washing-up etc.

It would be great to have some idea on numbers so that we can plan food etc, so if you can, please let us know if you are coming. (Contact details below)

Contact Information

Telephone: before camp 0845 337 0282; at the camp 07976705127

The event is organised by the Stop Nuclear Power Network

and also supported by:

· Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (

· Shutdown Sizewell Campaign (

· Stop Hinkley Campaign (