BNFL admits to more Sellafield safety lapses

British Nuclear Fuels reported two further breaches in safety procedures at its Sellafield base in the last week. This follows its admission last month that three employees falsified quality assurance documents at a fuel-manufacturing plant on the site. Two workers received higher than normal doses of radiation during an operation on 2 October to remove […]

British Nuclear Fuels reported two further breaches in safety procedures at its Sellafield base in the last week. This follows its admission last month that three employees falsified quality assurance documents at a fuel-manufacturing plant on the site.

Two workers received higher than normal doses of radiation during an operation on 2 October to remove an irradiated control rod from the Number 1 reactor at Calder Hall, Britain’s oldest nuclear power station.

The company said the abnormal radiation levels in the reactor building occured when the control rod was being partially withdrawn from a storage hole on to the lid of the reactor.

A management investigation is under way, although a spokesman said it seemed that the shielding on the rod was `not specifically designed for the purpose’.

A site-wide audit of the way BNFL handles and stores radioactive materials also revealed that there were small amounts of such material on the site that did not appear on the company’s register.

In March, the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate ordered the company to make improvements in the way it stored, leak-tested and accounted for sealed radioactive materials on the Sellafield site.

Following an interim inspection by NII officials, the company asked for the deadline for meeting the requirements of the improvement notice to be extended to 31 January.