Friday, April 22, 2011

Radioactive spills at UK plants exposed

Sellafield nuclear complex in Cumbria, England

Source: Press TV

A leaked report has unveiled details of two incidents of radioactive spills and a breakdown in an emergency cooling system at the UK nuke plants in the past 3 months.

The report said a number of shortfalls was exposed when a brown puddle containing plutonium, five times the legal safety limit, leaked from an old ventilation duct at the Sellafield nuclear complex in Cumbria, according to the daily The Guardian.

At Torness nuclear power station, groundwater was contaminated with radioactive tritium (a form of hydrogen) leaking from two pipelines, according to the report.

Meanwhile, at Hartlepool nuclear station on the north-east coast of England, the back-up cooling system was put out of action by a faulty valve.

The office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), the government's newly created nuclear safety watchdog said it is investigating the three incidents, all of which happened in February this year.

The incidents were sufficiently serious to be reported to ministers under safety guidelines agreed in the wake of the Chernobyl accident in Ukraine 25 years ago, The Guardian reported.

The criteria for reporting nuclear incidents, which takes place every three months, include leakages, breaches of safety limits and events where “safe operation may be significantly affected”.

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