Britain has been issued with another warning by the European Commission about the operation of the Sellafield nuclear plant, this time over the failure of the site’s managers to keep proper records.
The Commission said the Cumbrian site breached European Union rules designed to keep tabs on all nuclear materials, to stop them being diverted illegally for non-peaceful uses.
In 2004 the Commission criticised safety at the site and complained that EU inspectors have been denied access to some facilities.
On Wednesday the Commission warned the British Nuclear Group Sellafield – part of government-owned British Nuclear Fuels – for breaches of accounting and reporting standards. Although the warning reflects concerns in Brussels over the site’s operation, the Commission said it had no grounds to suspect nuclear material had gone missing. “It does not find that nuclear material was actually lost or diverted from its intended purpose and does not concern the issue of nuclear safety.”
The findings will add to anxieties about Sellafield particularly in Ireland, whose government has waged a five-year legal campaign to try to get the site closed. There have been concerns in Ireland that Sellafield might pollute the Irish Sea with radioactive waste.
BNG complained it found out about the Commission’s warning from a reporter. “BNG would expect the Commission to notify us, as operator of the installation concerned, prior to issuing any press statement.” It was “fully focused” on accounting for nuclear materials.
The government said: “The UK always takes EU nuclear safeguard standards extremely seriously. The BNG Sellafield has held its own inquiry and a review of these safeguards is now being fully implemented.’’
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