SECURITY scares at Sellafield raise fears of a disaster “worse than Chernobyl”, campaigners warn.
The Sun on Sunday can reveal there have been 25 safety breaches logged at the massive nuclear waste plant in the past two years.
6 Security lapses at Sellafield raise fears of a disaster ‘worse than Chernobyl’, campaigners have warnedCredit: Getty – Contributor
The 6km razor-wired compound stores a 140 tonne plutonium stockpile and handles radioactive waste generated by the UK’s working reactors.
The clean-up site in Cumbria has been dubbed the most hazardous place in Europe. Nuclear bosses insist safety is an “overriding priority”.
Incidents logged at Sellafield include radiation leaking from a water pipe and a nuclear waste container that was not welded completely shut.
Other alerts were triggered when potentially harmful uranium powder was spilled and acid was discovered leaking from a bust pipe
Janine Smith, from the campaign group Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment, said locals lived in fear of a serious incident.
‘COULD BE WORSE THAN CHERNOBYL’
She said: “One safety breach is one too many. There just shouldn’t be any. Just one error could be catastrophic.
“It’s not like making a mistake inside a chocolate factory. The buildings at Sellafield are all so close together that if something was to happen at that site it would be a disaster.
“We just keep our fingers crossed, and everything else, that we don’t ever have to witness a nuclear disaster in this country. It could be worse than Chernobyl”.
According to the logs, the bomb squad was called in October 2017 when potentially unstable chemicals sparked an emergency scare.
A month later, in a separate incident, a worker was found to have been exposed to a low level of radiation.
We just keep our fingers crossed, that we don’t ever have to witness a nuclear disaster in this countryJanine Smith
The 1986b Chernobyl meltdown generated a blast the equivalent of 500 nuclear bombs when a reactor exploded and burned.
The Ukraine catastrophe, back in the spotlight after the hit Sky Atlantic show, released at least 100 times more radiation than the atom bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
Sellafield Ltd said it is “never complacent about safety.” A spokesman said: “Safety performance on our site is comparable with other high-risk industries.
“None of the events recorded in the past two years have been above the lowest level of classification. In line with our commitment to openness and transparency, we investigate all incidents and report details on our website.
“This is so the public can scrutinise our performance and so that we can learn from experience. We are never complacent about safety and we are always striving to do better.”
‘ONE ERROR COULD BE CATASTROPHIC’
The Environment Agency has taken enforcement action against Sellafield ten times since September over compliance breaches.
A spokesman said: “Nuclear facility operators must adhere to the highest waste control standards.
“Where Sellafield has fallen short of these standards, the impact has generally been extremely small and we have taken firm and appropriate action.”
The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) also hit Sellafield with an improvement notice this year after a high-voltage cable was sliced, causing a power loss.
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The ONR said: “We encourage nuclear sites to report all events, no matter how minor, and the vast majority of those reported could happen at any large industrial site.
“Nuclear plants are designed and operated to deal with unexpected events that occur and there are multiple safety barriers to stop those events becoming more serious.
“We consider every event and, for those we deem more significant, we take appropriate regulatory action to ensure the safety of workers and the public.”
6 The Chernobyl reactor after the explosion, April 26, 1986Credit: Rex Features
6 Debris in Chernobyl’s reactor number four from the roof of the third reactor,Credit: Getty – Contributor
6 Sellafield Ltd said it is ‘never complacent about safety’, but locals are concernedCredit: Getty Images – Getty
6 Incidents logged at Sellafield include radiation leaking from a water pipe and a nuclear waste container that was not welded completely shutCredit: PA:Press Association
6 The 1986b Chernobyl meltdown generated a blast equivalent to 500 nuclear bombs going offCredit: Getty – Contributor
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