HC Deb 12 February 1997 vol 290 cc217-8W
Mr. Meacher

To ask the President of the Board of Trade when he was notified of the radiation contamination accidents that took place at Sellafield on (a) 2 and (b) 4 February; what was the nature of each accident; and if he will make a statement on safety at Sellafield. [15063]

Mr. Page

The incidents were reported to this and other interested Departments and relevant regulatory bodies on 3 and 4 February, respectively.

The incident on 2 February occurred during the dismantling of redundant equipment in the Magnox reprocessing plant at Sellafield. Six workers received slight contamination to their person following the removal of their protective clothing. They were subsequently decontaminated by normal washing/showering and were monitored as clear of contamination before going home. There was no release of radioactivity beyond the Magnox reprocessing plant building where the incident occurred.

The incident on the night of 3/4 February occurred during the transfer of medium active concentrate along a pipeline between storage tanks when some of the liquor spilled onto a tank roof. Heavy overnight rain washed some of this liquor along the installed drainage system and into a large concrete lined pond for the collection of storm water. The pumps which discharge the contaminated water to the sea were stopped automatically as a result of low levels of radioactivity being detected by the installed monitoring equipment. No one received contamination to his or her person or any significant radiation exposure.

The incidents are being fully investigated by British Nuclear Fuels to establish their causes and to make recommendations to prevent a recurrence. Inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive's installations inspectorate and the Environment Agency are on site obtaining further information. The NII would not allow any nuclear site to operate if it were not satisfied as to its safety.

In accordance with normal procedures, details of both incidents were contained in last week's Sellafield site newsletter, copies of which are available in the Library of the House.