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Question for Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

UIN 88285, tabled on 10 September 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the incident reported at Sellafield on 14 August 2020 that involved Sellafield Ltd management calling in experts from Explosive Ordinance Disposal to stabilise toxic chemicals discovered inappropriately stored near the Magnox reprocessing line; what danger was posed to the (a) licensed nuclear site workforce and (b) community near to Sellafield outside the security fence; and what steps he is taking to ensure that Sellafield Ltd improves the safety of the on-site management of toxic and potentially explosive chemicals as a consequence of that incident.

Answered on

18 September 2020

As part of routine inspection of chemicals being stored inside a dedicated store (within the Magnox Reprocessing Facility) at Sellafield, a chemical was found to have changed in appearance. The UK’s independent regulator, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), were in regular contact with the site as they managed this incident and safely disposed of the materials, in accordance with their established procedures.

At no point were workers at the site, or the community near to Sellafield, at any risk as a result of this material or the manner in which it was disposed of. The Magnox Reprocessing Facility was evacuated as a precaution during disposal.

The ONR were content with Sellafield Ltd’s actions in response and will continue to monitor progress with arrangements for managing waste chemicals across the site, including inspecting the operator’s plans for their disposal or safe storage.

The ONR’s inspectors are following up on this incident and will determine if further regulatory action is required.

Answered by

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy