Nuclear plant firm Sellafield Limited has been ordered to pay £700,000 in fines and £76,000 in court costs after dumping bags of radioactive waste at a landfill site in Cumbria.
Carlisle Crown Court heard on Friday (14 June) that bags containing low-level radioactive material were illegally sent from Sellafield to be disposed of in landfill in April 2010.
The court heard that operational failings at Sellafield led to the incorrect disposal of the bags - containing gloves, mops and rubber - at the Lillyhall landfill site in Workington. This breached the firm’s environmental permit. The waste should have been sent to a low-level waste repository at Drigg.
Sellafield said that a monitoring error passed the bags as general waste, which made the bags exempt from strict processing laws.
Ian Parker, nuclear regulation manager for the Environment Agency, said: “Our overriding aim in regulating the nuclear industry is to protect people and the environment from the release of radioactive wastes into the environment.
While this incident did not lead to any significant harm being caused to the public or to the environment, the failings by Sellafield Ltd that led to the incident were serious and we consider that on this occasion, Sellafield Limited fell well short of the high standards which we expect from them.”