Company decommissioning nuclear facility pleades guilty after contractors inhale contaminated dust

The company in charge of decommissioning Sellafield has been fined £75,000 after two workers were exposed to radioactive materials at the nuclear facility.

The contractors inhaled dust contaminated with plutonium when drilling a patch of concrete floor at the Cumbrian site in July 2007. It is thought the area had previously been contaminated by radiation from a spillage. There was no immediate impact on their health but they were said to have received a “significant radiation dose”.

Sellafield Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 at Carlisle Crown Court and was today ordered to pay costs of £26,100 in addition to the fine.

The superintending nuclear inspector at the Health and Safety Executive, Mark Bassett, said: “Although the radiation doses in this case were below the statutory dose limits, they could potentially have been higher. They should have been zero.

“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.”