• August 17, 2011


Despite what are described as `extensive investigations’ Sellafield cannotm identify the source of a leak of contaminants first identified in February this year.

The news is contained in the latest (quarterly) report of the Chief Inspector of Nuclear Installations forwarded to the league two weeks ago.

A copy of the report and the covering letter from HMI is set out below:

“Office for Nuclear Regulation
An agency of HSE

Dr Mike Weightman
HM Chief Inspector of Nuclear Installations and Executive Head of ONR

PS/Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

PS/Secretary of State for Scotland

25 July 2011


I enclose the statement of nuclear incidents at nuclear installations for the period 1 April 2011 to 30 June 2011. During this quarter there were no incidents at civil licensed sites that met the Ministerial Reporting Criteria (MRC).

In our last statement we said there was one event that could meet the MRC during the period 1 January 2011 to 31 March 2011, this event is now considered to meet the criteria, and an update is provided in this statement.

Please note the statement will be published during week commencing 25 July 2011.

As always, I am available to discuss the report or other matters relating to the safety of the UK nuclear industry or its regulation.

Yours sincerely

Dr Mike Weightman
HM Chief Inspector of Nuclear Installations and Executive Head of ONR”

“Quarterly Statement of Nuclear Incidents at Nuclear Installations

A statement on incidents at nuclear installations in Britain which meet Ministerial Reporting Criteria (MRC) is reported to the Secretary of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Secretary of State for Scotland and is published every quarter by the Health & Safety Executive’s ONR.

For the period 1 April 2011 to 30 June 2011 there were no incidents at licensed civil nuclear installations that met the MRC.

For the period 1 January 2011 to 30 March 2011 we said there was one incident that could meet the MRC. The incident occurred at the Sellafield site and is now considered to meet the criteria; an update is provided below.

Sellafield Ltd

In February 2011, a request was made for a pre-operation radiological survey for an area that was proposed to be used for lay-down purposes during maintenance work on the main building extract fans serving the Analytical Services Laboratories. During the area survey, surface contamination was detected, which was hitherto unknown. The area is within the Separation Controlled Contamination
zone and of very low personnel occupancy. Subsequent additional surveys and analysis confirmed that the total radioactivity in the ground exceeded the quantity for notification in Column 4 of Schedule 8 in the lonising Radiation
Regulations 1999. The detailed analysis has also given reassurance that the material was several decades old. Furthermore it should be noted that despite extensive investigations by Sellafield Ltd no obvious source or leak path has been identified to date. Sellafield Ltd has concluded that the most appropriate ALARP approach is to record the presence of the contamination and seal the
surface to prevent its spread, and then periodically to monitor the situation for migration of material.

Due to the location of the contamination it is judged very unlikely that anyone would have come into contact with the contamination but even if they had the contamination would have been detected upon leaving the area. The level of
contamination was such that it would not have caused any significant exposure.

Remediation of the contamination will ultimately be undertaken through the Sellafield Site Ground Remediation Project. ONR has accepted that the proposed way forward by the operator is reasonable.

Single copies of statements are available free from the Health and Safety= Executive.
Office for Nuclear Regulation, Division 3. Building 4.N2, Redgrave Court. Merton Road, Bootle. L20 7HS. Tel: 0151 951 3484.”

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
Celtic League


The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues.

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