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Wednesday, 13 November, 2002, 15:02 GMT
Nuclear plant 'should be prosecuted'
Dounreay
Contamination was spotted during routine checks
Campaigners have called for an independent inquiry after 20 workers at the Dounreay nuclear plant were contaminated with radioactive particles.

Scotland Against Nuclear Dumping said the Caithness facility should be prosecuted over the incident.

However, the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) - which runs the plant - has already launched its own investigation into the cause of the contamination.


The contamination appears to have come from drips of liquid that spilled during this transfer and has been contained well within the building itself

Colin Punler
Dounreay spokesman
And the company stressed that measures had been put in place to avoid a repeat of the incident.

Routine checks on Wednesday detected contamination on the footwear of staff at a waste handling plant.

Subsequent investigations found two employees in the D2001 plant had radioactivity on their hands, while one of them also had traces on his face.

UKAEA said that most of the contamination was cleaned from their skin and the workers were sent home wearing rubber gloves.

The operation was stopped and the building was sealed off.

Ventilation system

At the time of the incident 70 workers were carrying out decommissioning work using robotics arms to lift radioactive materials, which were shielded from them by protective screens.

Spokesman Colin Punler said: "Any contamination on the skin is a cause for concern, but the information we have is that it was very low levels.

"There has been no release to the environment, and that has been confirmed by checking with the sampling and the ventilation system.

"The contamination appears to have come from drips of liquid that spilled during this transfer and has been contained well within the building itself."


The public must know how this material was allowed to leak

Robin Harper
Green MSP
The UKAEA said that the plant would not re-open until it had completed its investigations into the incident.

However, Lorraine Mann of Scotland Against Nuclear Dumping said an independent inquiry should be carried out.

"We believe that the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) should be investigating this incident with a view to prosecuting Dounreay," she told BBC Scotland.

"They cannot get away with doing this sort of thing to people and they cannot get away with these levels of incompetence at the site."

That call was echoed by Green MSP Robin Harper, who said: "It is not good enough just to allow an internal inquiry.

'Grave concern'

"The public must know how this material was allowed to leak."

Local Liberal Democrat MSP John Thurso warned against "over-dramatising" the incident.

However, he added that contamination at Dounreay was a matter of "grave concern".

"It is essential that UKAEA investigate the cause and report promptly so that any necessary lessons can be learned," he said.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Scotland's Jackie O'Brien
"Anti-nuclear campaigners believe Dounreay should be prosecuted"
See also:

13 Nov 02 | Scotland
13 Nov 02 | Scotland
12 Feb 02 | Scotland
22 Jan 02 | Scotland
14 Nov 02 | Scotland
01 Aug 01 | Scotland
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