Sellafield is facing prosecution after being accused of disposing of hazardous waste at a landfill site.
The Environment Agency (EA) and Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) alleges that the company, which manages the nuclear site in West Cumbria, sent four bags of low-level radioactive waste to Lillyhall landfill site, in nearby Workington, Cumbria, in 2010.
The company faces nine charges under the Radioactive Substances Act and Environmental Permitting Regulations, as well as the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment Regulations 2009. The charges follow a two-year investigation by the EA and ONR.
At the time, Sellafield said that the 30kg of waste was taken to Lillyhall instead of the low-level waste repository near Drigg because a bag monitoring machine incorrectly categorised them as not being radioactive.
The case will go to Workington Magistrates Court next month, and Sellafield said that it was therefore unable to comment.
The legal action comes in the wake a report from the National Audit Office earlier this month, which highlighted the “considerable challenge” faced by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority in the clean-up of Sellafield, the UK’s largest and ‘most hazardous’ nuclear site. The office said the cost of storing radioactive material at Sellafield had risen by more than £900m in 10 months.
Sellafield said it welcomed the report’s recognition of the challenge it faced in decommissioning the site, and said that it had taken steps to “strengthen its approach”.