Page last updated at 19:41 GMT, Friday, 6 February 2009

Nuclear owners guilty over leaks

Bradwell Power Station
Bradwell nuclear power station is no longer generating electricity

A nuclear power station operator in Essex has been found guilty of allowing radioactive waste to seep from a sump in a decontamination unit for 14 years.

Magnox Electric denied four charges of allowing unauthorised disposal of radioactive waste between 1990 and 2004 at Bradwell nuclear power station.

At Chelmsford Crown Court the firm was convicted of breaching laws governing the disposal of radioactive waste.

Managers claimed the waste leaked when someone else owned the plant.

The Environment Agency said it continued after they took over and during the case, it emerged staff had failed to inspect a holding tank that had been leaking liquid radioactive waste since 1990.

No risk to public

Mark Harris, prosecuting on behalf of the Environment Agency, said the fault at the power station, which was no longer running, was discovered in February 2004.

"The leaks were caused by a combination of poor original design of the sump.

"Also in the period when this company was running it there was no routine inspection or maintenance of the sump until after the leak was discovered," he said.

Charles Oliver of Magnox Electric said: "Throughout the proceedings it has been common ground between the parties that there was never any risk of harm to the general public.

"There was also no prospect of any of the waste leaving the licensed site."

The company admitted two further charges of failing to maintain the leaking sump at Bradwell power station and will be sentenced on 17 February.

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