Fine for misdirected waste shipment

17 June 2013

Sellafield Ltd has been fined £700,000 ($1.1 million) for mistakenly sending four bags of low-level waste to a conventional landfill instead of the correct facility.

The company, which manages the Sellafield site in Cumbria on behalf of the UK's Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, discovered that it had shipped the waste to a conventional landfill site in April 2010 and informed the Environment Agency and the Office for Nuclear Regulation. Sellafield Ltd was subsequently found guilty of incorrectly characterising four bags of low-level waste with this leading directly to two violations: their transport by road under conditions unsuitable for this waste, classified as dangerous goods; and their disposal in the Lillyhall conventional landfill site in nearby Workington. The mis-classified bags were later retrieved from the landfill and returned to Sellafield for correct disposal.

Sellafield ariel (Sellafield Ltd)_460
An aerial view of the Sellafield site (Image: Sellafield Ltd)

Carlisle Crown Court has now issued Sellafield Ltd with a £700,000 ($1.1 million) fine and ordered it to pay £72,635 ($114,290) in costs.

Low-level waste

This is typically comprised of lightly-contaminated disposable equipment - for example clothing, filters, masks and gloves from plant operations. It is usually compressed and disposed of in sturdy metal boxes within a dedicated landfill site lined to prevent the passage of water.

Sellafield found that new equipment had been incorrectly configured, passing the bags as general waste. The company said that additional monitoring measures have since been put in place.

Environment Agency nuclear regulation manager Ian Parker said, "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 Ltd fell well short of the high standards which we expect from them."

He added, "For us, the most important thing is that Sellafield Ltd has learnt the lessons from this and put improvements in place to minimise the chances of this type of incident happening again."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News