THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS

THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS



BNFL FACES SAFETY CHARGES

Thursday, December 13, 2001

A radiation incident involving a scaffolder at Sellafield has landed BNFL with another court appearance on four charges next month.

The scaffolder received a radiation dose to his skin while working in Thorp head-end plant's crane maintenance area nearly 12 months ago.

Site director of operations Brian Watson told the Sellafield Local Liaison Committee: "We are summoned to appear at Whitehaven Magistrates Court in January in relation to the contamination of a contract scaffolder. I deeply regret it has happened and even more determined to make the necessary changes, as we have done over the last two years, to make sure such occurrences don't happen."

At the time of the incident, BNFL reported in its weekly Sellafield Newsletter that it had set up a board of inquiry after the scaffolder was found to have three patches of contamination on the outside of his PVC suit. BNFL classed the incident as level 1 on the International Nuclear Event scale - an anomaly.

The government's Health and Safety Executive has brought four charges accusing BNFL of failing to ensure a non-BNFL employee was not exposed to risk, failing to take all necessary steps to restrict exposure to radiation; failing to making a suitable assessment of risk and in breaching the site licence failing to ensure that a suitably qualified and experienced person was supervising operations at the time.

The case will be heard by Whitehaven Magistrates on January 24. A BNFL spokeswoman said: "We will not indicate our plea to the charges until we are in court."