Whitehaven News

The Whitehaven News



SELLAFIELD ENGINEERS WRESTLE WITH ROGUE NUCLEAR HOTSPOT

Thursday, July 12, 2001

The Sellafield watchdog committee has heard that engineers are currently trying to solve a rogue "hot spot" that has started in a tank of highly radioactive liquid waste.

Director of Sellafield, Brian Watson told the site Liaison meeting, at Whitehaven, that: "Elevated temperatures in one of the high-level waste tanks is a point of focus for us.'' The highly active liquor tanks have to be kept cooled and agitated to prevent boiling and discharge of radiation.

Afterwards Mr Watson explained that it was a "small area of raised temperature" and agitation of the sediments would remove the cause of the problem. He said the Nuclear Installations Inspecorate was satisfied with the handling of the issue.

The meeting had an embarrassing moment, when a member of the public appeared to harangue the assembled councillors and BNFL experts demanding "more compensation" for victims of contamination incidents. The man wore a face mask which it was unclear was for medical reasons or to keep his identity private. He said: "I am an ex-B30 man...look at me..I will protest at your future meetings asking for more funding for Ponds West Division.''

He then left after newly elected chairman, Coun David Moore, said the time for questions was at the end of the session. The B30 complex was nicknamed Dirty Thirty because of its high levels of contamination from the de-canning in ponds of old Magnox fuel assemblies.

The meeting heard from Mr Watson that BNFL was "looking to the government to end the uncertainty" over the Mox plant, which he said was within weeks of being able to handle plutonium. He said the company had customers lined up for 40% of the plant's load. The government has held back from giving Mox the green light for four years.

There was political embarrassment when nobody supported Coun Carni McCarron-Holmes when she asked for more than the single representative allowed on the SLLC, from Allerdale.

There was also set to be a battle for the post of vice-chairman of the committee when both Coun George Usher and Coun John Henney had their names put forward.

However, when Coun David Moore indicated the need for a secret ballot, Coun Henney withdrew.