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Sellafield to face neglect charges.

Byline: By PAT FLANAGAN

SELLAFIELD bosses face serious charges over a radioactive spill which caused the shutdown of part of the plant.

Negligence prosecutions against British Nuclear Group will be made within days for breaches of safety regulations.

The revelation is a serious blow to British Government plans to sell off the Cumbrian plant.

The charges come after an incident when a pipe ruptured allowing 80,000 litres of contaminated acid to spill out.

It is understood the British Health and Safety Executive could not believe staff at Sellafield did not notice the massive leak for eight months.

The fluid which escaped from the pipe contained 160kgs of plutonium along with 20 tonnes of uranium.

The incident, which was reported in April last year knocked out the Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant, (Thorp) which is still closed.

But management want to start the facility up again sparking fears more pipes which are badly corroded could give way.

Already huge stockpiles of spent fuel from other reactors have built up because they cannot be processed by Thorp.

In a statement the company said: "We are planning on restarting the plant in the summer, subject to regulatory consent."

Sellafield campaigner Martin Forwood said: "We have taken advice from nuclear engineers and there is no way to tell whether a second set of pipes won't also spring a leak.

"Both lots of pipes have been carrying similar quantities of highly corrosive liquid. If one lot failed, why should the second lot not do so?"

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 21, 2006
Words:255
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