Collection

Sellafield Ltd incident reports and notices

Sellafield Ltd is committed to keeping the public informed about operations on the Sellafield site.

Below you will find details of operational issues and events.

Sellafield Incident report – ductwork defect – 12 October 2018

Over the past few years, Sellafield Ltd has been carrying out improvement work on the ventilation systems associated with two ageing facilities on the Sellafield site.

As part of the improvement work, defects have been discovered in locations relating to the ventilation ductwork outside the buildings.

The first defect was discovered during a standard safety assessment of a steel ventilation duct wall connected to a material handling facility at Sellafield.

Also, during maintenance work on a duct running from on-site laboratories, further defects were discovered. The ducts provide extract ventilation from the buildings. A small proportion of the air within the ducting was being lost to atmosphere, although there is no measured loss of activity from the defects.

The radiological impact on members of the public and the environment has been assessed as very low. The Environment Agency has served an enforcement notice which requires us to repair the defects and improve maintenance and the wider inspection and repair programme for ventilation duct work.

Sellafield Incident report - Pressure washer leak – 23 October 2018

During an assessment of a controlled area within the Sellafield site, we identified a slow leak from an industrial pressure washer, resulting in contamination both within and outside the bund underneath the pressure washer. As a result, a small quantity of material entered the controlled area surface water drainage system. The quantity lost is not environmentally significant.

The surface water drains feed into a lagoon, and we have detected no increase in activity discharged from the lagoon.

We have carried out a detailed spillage assessment and concluded that there were no safety consequences, and the radiological release was well within regulatory limits.

We treat any unexpected discharge very seriously and we are investigating how this event occurred.

Sellafield incident report - Misrouting of waste metal – 9 July 2018

We closely monitor and audit activities on the Sellafield site.

It was identified due to the diligence of this auditing process that some metallic waste which potentially contained asbestos had been sent to a facility not permitted to handle asbestos.

All of the waste concerned has undergone thorough radiological checks and does not contain any nuclear material.

We are working with the operator of this facility to understand what, if any, consequences arose as a result of the handling of this waste.

This investigation is ongoing and all of the relevant regulatory authorities have been informed.

Sellafield incident report - Cement grout washings overflow – 26 June 2018

While transferring cement grout washing liquid to a settling tank on the Sellafield site, a small amount of liquid was leaking out of the drainage area and into the exterior surface water drain.

The drain discharges to the River Calder, via a storm water outfall. The effluent that entered the drain was not radioactive.

Sellafield Ltd is carrying out an investigation and will take action to address the findings.

There were no safety or environmental consequences.

Sellafield incident report - Undisclosed items in mixed metal consignment – 22 June 2018

A contractor that provides a metal recycling service for low level radioactive metals from the Sellafield site, received a mixed metal waste consignment from the site that included a number of used, crushed metal containers that included residues.

The metals waste containing residues were not disclosed to the waste recycling contractor and did not meet its Waste Acceptance Criteria.

Sellafield Ltd has carried out an investigation resulting in actions to address the findings.

There were no safety or environmental consequences.

Sellafield incident report - Monitoring samples – 29 May 2018

Sellafield Ltd takes environmental monitoring samples from the Separation Area Ventilation stack sampler at Sellafield on a quarterly basis for analysis.

One sample is sent to Sellafield Ltd’s laboratories for analysis, while the other is sent to the Environment Agency.

The samples were taken but not issued to the regulator within the required timescales.

This is a breach of the regulator’s permit requirements. Sellafield Ltd is carrying out an investigation and will take action to address the findings.

There were no safety or environmental consequences as a result of this breach.

Sellafield incident report - Soil sampling process – 4 May 2018

During routine sampling and testing of small amounts of soil on the Sellafield site to ensure its suitability for reuse, the relevant project backfilled the excavated area prior to receiving confirmation that it was suitable for backfill.

The soil in the area where the sampling took place is considered low risk and there are no safety or environmental consequences.

An investigation has been carried out, and we are considering any actions required to address the findings.

Sellafield incident report – Ventilation system maintenance anomaly – 11 April 18

During routine maintenance work on the ventilation system of one of Sellafield Ltd’s intermediate level waste stores, an extract damper (valve) was left open resulting in air from the store bypassing the High Efficiency Particulate Air filters.

Once it was identified, the damper was returned to its correct position. The air leaving the store is continuously monitored and there were no safety impactions during that time.

Sellafield Ltd is carrying out an investigation, and will take action to address the findings.

Sellafield incident report – Water leak – 1 March 2018

Due to freezing temperatures at the beginning of March, there was a water leak from a water pipe on an elevated pipebridge on the Sellafield site.

As a result, water ran into nearby pipe trenches below ground level.

The volume of water resulted in a discharge through a number of non-routine routes, including a leakage to ground. The water carried very low concentrations of radioactive contamination.

The water was removed and safely disposed of via our robust processes. A management investigation has been carried out to understand the root cause and identify learning from the event.

There were no safety implications for the workforce or the general public.

The event carries a Nuclear International Event Scale Level 1 rating (an anomaly) based on ‘minor problems with safety components with significant defence in depth remaining.’

Sellafield incident report - Waste spillage – 6 February 2018

During routine sampling work in a product finishing line facility at Sellafield, a small number of contaminated waste items fell through the end of an unsealed bag causing the waste to fall to the floor.

The operator handling the samples was wearing the correct personal protective equipment, and the individual suffered no ill effects. Also, the contamination was contained within the immediate work area.

The material was immediately made safe and the area subsequently cleared of any contamination.

An investigation has been carried out, and we are considering any actions required to address the findings.

The event carries an International Nuclear Event Scale Level 1 rating (an anomaly) based on ‘minor problems with safety components with significant defence in depth remaining.’

Sellafield incident report - Powder spillage - 15 January 2018

During routine sampling work in a Sellafield drum filling area, a bottle containing uranium trioxide powder accidentally fell to the floor causing approximately 100-150g to spill out.

The operator handling the samples was wearing the correct personal protective equipment and the correct safety procedures were followed.

There was no personal contamination or ingestion by the operator and the contamination was contained in the immediate work area. An investigation has been carried out, and we are now considering the actions required to address the findings.

The event has been rated 0 (anomaly) on the International Nuclear Events Scale.

Level 1 represents the lowest severity, known as ‘anomaly’, rising to Level 7: ‘major incident’.

Sellafield incident report - Personnel contamination event - 28 November 2017

An employee was contaminated during operations in one of our analytical laboratories at Sellafield.

This was identified following routine internal dosimetry monitoring tests which are carried out on our nuclear workers.

An assessment confirmed that the radiation dose received was significantly less than the annual limit allowed for an individual.

The employee suffered no ill effects and did not require any time off work.

Sellafield incident report - Powder spillage - 14 June 2017

While carrying out analysis work in a Sellafield site laboratory, a worker spilled approximately 1kg of depleted uranium trioxide powder while moving a container.

The material is not harmful unless ingested or inhaled.

The correct safety procedures were followed and the immediate area was evacuated before returning to normal service on the same day.

Health checks confirmed the worker suffered no ill effects.

An internal investigation is being carried out.

Sellafield is regulated by the Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency.

Some of these reports are graded using the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES).

See details of incidents at Sellafield before 1 August 2017

Published 10 June 2017
Last updated 11 December 2018 + show all updates
  1. New incident report added
  2. New incident report added
  3. New incident report added - Soil sampling process
  4. New incident report added - Misrouting of waste metal – 9 July 2018
  5. Updated 21 June 2018
  6. A new incident report has been added to the page.
  7. First published.