LONDON, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- An official prepared by Britain's Nuclear Installations Inspectorate warns that nuclear waste stored at 22 British sites containing plutonium is in danger of leaking.
Further, British news reports today of the leaked study say there is a risk of an uncontrolled nuclear reaction at the Sellafield reprocessing plant in Cumbria.
The nuclear waste review compiled for a House of Lords select committee was apparently first leaked to New Scientist magazine and then passed around to other major publications in Britain.
The Guardian says the report identifies the worst problems at Sellafield, the Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment and eight aging Magnox power stations.
And, Britain's Nuclear Installations Inspectorate has reportedly made it clear that it is ``increasingly concerned'' about more than half of the 70,000 cubic meters of intermediate level waste stored nationwide.
The Daily Telegraph says today that the worst problems identified in the report are materials contaminated with plutonium in storage at Sellafield in old drums, filters and crates.
The leaked report adds that stores containing plutonium waste are crumbling and some of the waste could explode and, in one case, go ``critical'' -- the technical term of an uncontrollable nuclear reaction like the disastrous one at Chernobyl in the Ukraine in 1986.
A government spokesman told the British Broadcasting Corporation today that the inspectorate's report was due to be published in January but a copy was placed in the House of Lords library after it was given to a Lords committee looking into nuclear waste.
The state-owned entity in charge of nuclear waste storage in Britain, British Nuclear Fuels, issued a statement this morning, which said, in part:
``We are aware that some of the waste needs urgent repackaging; as the inspectorate points out, we already have programs to address this under way....We will work closely with the regulator to ensure the safety of retrieval operations.''
But Dominic Jenkins, of Britain's environmental group, Friends of the Earth, says, ``This shows that our nuclear regulator is failing to keep these problems under control.''