Sellafield operator promises safety overhaul

BNFL reacts to critical official reports; pledges new inspection, peer review, systems

British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL), operator of the UK's Sellafield nuclear plant, today announced a two-year safety action plan in response to three reports issued by the UK Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) in February. The inspectorate heavily criticised safety and management procedures at the plant (ENDS Daily 18 February).

BNFL claims it has now made widespread changes to staff and safety management systems, appointed a new team of senior independent inspectors and advisors, and plans to develop a "peer review system" with other nuclear plant operators. According to new chief executive Norman Askew, five of the 15 recommendations set out in the NII's review of last years data falsification scandal have been "implemented in full". Seven of 28 recommendations in a second report on general safety management have been fulfilled.

British environmental groups immediately attacked BNFL's report, saying it "treated the symptoms, not the cause". "As long as Sellafield clings to its dying plutonium business, the threat to human health and the environment continues," said Greenpeace spokesperson Helen Wallace. Friends of the Earth argued that "new procedures and moving staff around is no more than rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic".

Follow Up:
BNFL, tel: +44 1925 83 20 00. See also Going Forward Safely and Rebuilding Trust.

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