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Friday, 2 June, 2000, 12:20 GMT 13:20 UK
BNFL fined for acid leak
The Sellafield plant
Sellafield was the centre of damning safety reports
British Nuclear Fuels Limited (BNFL) has been ordered to pay 74,000 over a nitric acid leak at its Sellafield plant.

The firm was fined 40,000 and ordered to pay 34,000 towards costs at Carlisle Crown Court on Friday following an investigation into breaches of health and safety conditions.

The trial was based on an incident on 11 March last year, when concentrated nitric acid was released at the Cumbrian plant, injuring two employees.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said about seven cubic metres of concentrated nitric acid was released at the Solvent Treatment Plant, during work on a valve.

The release resulted in the building being evacuated.

Two workers suffered slight acid burns, a fireman inhaled fumes and some damage occurred to the building and plant, it said.

Troubled history

The HSE also claimed BNFL had failed to ensure the safety of its employees during the carrying out of commissioning and maintenance work in the Low Active Effluent Management Group Plant, including the Solvent Treatment Plant.

The prosecution followed BNFL's "root and branch" review of management at Sellafield after a damning report into the falsification of fuel data.

A safety probe highlighted "systematic management failures" which allowed workers to falsify quality assurance records.

The Nuclear Installations Inspectorate made 15 recommendations aimed at improving the safety culture at Sellafield, the largest nuclear facility in the UK.

After the publication of the report BNFL also confirmed it had investigated suspected sabotage at the plant.

Last 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, and BNFL said the inquiry was closed.

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See also:

18 Feb 00 | Business
BNFL's troubled history
18 Feb 00 | Northern Ireland
Nuclear plant's closure demanded
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