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"Someone out to cause serious trouble"
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Sunday, 26 March, 2000, 10:56 GMT
Nuclear staff urged to shop saboteur
Sellafield: Two sabotage attacks in a year
Unions and managers at the Sellafield nuclear power plant are joining forces to appeal to workers to identify a saboteur.

Detectives have launched a hunt for the attacker, who deliberately damaged equipment by cutting cables at the beleaguered plant.

When that person is discovered, that person should be sacked

Union leader Jack Dromey
All six unions at the plant have written to their members in an unprecedented move, urging them to co-operate with police and name whoever carried out the attack, even if it meant implicating a colleague.

Jack Dromey, leader of the Transport and General Workers' Union, said: "If there is an individual employee, who for whatever reason, is putting at risk his safety, the safety of workmates, the safety of the community and the reputation of the company, that is completely unacceptable.

Nuclear workers
Workers are urged to name the culprits
"I will not defend the indefensible.

"I support the Sellafield trade unions in calling upon all Sellafield workers to report who is it.

"And when that person is discovered, that person should be sacked."

A spokeswoman for the plant's owners, British Nuclear Fuels Limited (BNFL) refused to speculate who was responsible or why.

"The investigation began last month after the attack on the maintenance tool, which is not a safety-related piece of equipment," a spokeswoman said.

The robotic equipment involved was used in areas too dangerous for human workers, BNFL said.

Six master-slave manipulators, which allow machines to be operated from a remote location, were disabled when the wire cables were cut.

Safety 'not compromised'

BNFL said the sabotage disrupted work but did not compromise safety.

"BNFL takes this issue very seriously and the company will initiate appropriate proceedings if any individual or individuals are proven to have caused this damage deliberately," the spokeswoman said.

BNFL has informed the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) and called in detectives from the UK Atomic Energy Authority.

It is the second instance of sabotage at the plant in the last year.

Sellafield facts
Main activity: Recycling used fuel from nuclear power stations worldwide
It is one of the world's two principal recycling plants (the other is France's La Hague)
Employs more than 10,000 people on site
Mox production is a major new business for the site
Japan was its largest customer for Mox
In September, two mixed-oxide fuel rods were found to contain a small screw and a small piece of solid debris, which the management suspected were placed deliberately by staff.

An investigation failed to identify how the objects had got there.

The nuclear re-processing plant has been rocked by a number of scandals in recent months.

Five workers at the plant were sacked after it was discovered manual checks on fuel rods had been faked to save time.

A report into the plant by the NII in February revealed safety records had been systematically falsified.

Acid leak

Japan, Germany and Switzerland all stopped sending nuclear material to Sellafield because of the safety concerns.

The operators of the plant are also being prosecuted over a leak of concentrated nitric acid last March, which injured two employees.

A number of Scandinavian countries, together with Ireland, are beginning an attempt to suspend work at Sellafield under an anti-pollution treaty.

They are calling for nuclear reprocessing to be suspended, claiming the discharge of tiny traces of radioactivity, which are pumped out from a waste pipe, can be detected in seaweed and shellfish as far away as Norway.

At a meeting in Dublin on Monday, Irish and Danish ministers will assess the prospects of joint action to force the closure of Sellafield.

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