Page last updated at 09:45 GMT, Tuesday, 27 April 2010 10:45 UK

Radioactive waste from Sellafield dumped in landfill

Sellafield
About 70% of the UK's higher radioactive waste is kept at Sellafield

An investigation has begun into how bags of radioactive waste from the Sellafield nuclear complex in Cumbria ended up in a landfill site.

Five bags of low-level waste were sent to Lillyhall in Workington, instead of to the nearby Drigg nuclear waste dump.

Sellafield stressed the bags, which contained paper, plastic, clothing and wood, were no danger to the public.

It is thought monitoring equipment failed to properly identify the bags as containing low-level radioactive waste.

All the bags have been retrieved and returned to Sellafield.

Legal action

In a statement, Sellafield Ltd said: "The investigation has identified that a total five bags of low activity process wastes have been incorrectly consigned as exempt material rather than as low level waste.

"An initial analysis of the potential consequences of this incident has shown that there are no environmental implications.

"Our assessment has also determined that the maximum potential dose to a member of staff at the Lillyhall site as a result of this would be significantly less than a member of the public would receive from normal background radiation.

"However, as a result of this incident, the disposal of bagged process wastes from the site has been suspended until further investigations have been carried out."

A spokesman for the Environment Agency described the incident as "serious" and said Sellafield could face legal action.

He said: "We were informed by Sellafield that they disposed of, in error, five bin bags of low-level radioactive waste to a local landfill site.

"We have launched an investigation to establish how this has happened."

About 70% of the UK's higher radioactive waste is kept at Sellafield.



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