A fourth nuclear worker in two years has been `inexplicably’ contaminated with illegally high levels of plutonium.
British Nuclear Fuels said the worker was contaminated in the B570 product finishing plant at Sellafield following damage to his protective clothing while working at a glovebox on 27 August. But it said extensive efforts to establish the specific cause of the damage had been unsuccessful.
BNFL said the dose the individual received had exceeded the statutory limit of 50mSv a year. At the worker’s request, it was not stating the exact figure.
In 1995, another Sellafield worker received an internal dose of plutonium of more than 200mSv. Again BNFL’s investigations were unable to explain why, and the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate took no action.
Two workers in different parts of the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s site at Dounreay also received plutonium doses in excess of 200mSv in 1995. The UKAEA said earlier this year that a special inquiry team of health physicists had been unable to determine the cause in either case.
The NII will send papers on the Dounreay cases to the Procurator Fiscal, but this is an automatic procedure in Scotland where there is a prima facie breach of the regulations.