§ Dr. Cunningham
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement about the fire at the non-operational plant at the Sellafield nuclear fuel reprocessing site in west Cumbria on Tuesday 29 January; and if he will set up an inquiry into its cause.
§ Mr. Wakeham
I understand that during remedial maintenance work on a non-operational building at British Nuclear Fuels plc's Sellafield site, sections of asbestos were in the process of being removed and replaced by plastic coated metal cladding. Tarpaulins had been erected in order to make the building weatherproof. A contractor was using oxy-acetylene equipment to remove a metal rail when sparks from the equipment caused part of the tarpaulin to catch fire.
The Sellafield site fire brigade successfully dealt with the fire. The Cumbrian county fire service also attended.
Although no radioactivity was involved monitoring checks were carried out purely as a precaution. They confirmed that no release of radioactivity had taken place.
I understand that an inquiry has been convened by BNFL which will involve staff and trades union representatives. The regulatory authorities and local liaison committee were informed of the fire and a press release was issued in accordance with incident reporting procedures.