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Dounreay In Another Cover -Up

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THE UKAEA has denied trying to keep industry regulators in the dark about a glitch which occurred during the clean-up of a ntaminated shielded cell at a Dounreay waste-handling plant.

The problem occurred when clean water was accidentally fed into the cell in the currently mothballed cementation plant which processes intermediate-level waste from the site's decommissioning.

The Nuclear Installations Inspectorate – part of the Health and Safety Inspectorate – is unhappy not to have been told about the incident by the UKAEA. The first it knew about the incident was in an anonymous tip-off a week or so after it happened.

An unplanned £4 million-plus clean-up was mounted after the accidental spill of a quantity of highly-active waste in the cell in September 2005. The leak of about 400 litres of the water into the sump of the cell was spotted on August 20 last year.

THE UKAEA has denied trying to keep industry regulators in the dark about a glitch which occurred during the clean-up of a ntaminated shielded cell at a Dounreay waste-handling plant.

The problem occurred when clean water was accidentally fed into the cell in the currently mothballed cementation plant which processes intermediate-level waste from the site's decommissioning.

The Nuclear Installations Inspectorate – part of the Health and Safety Inspectorate – is unhappy not to have been told about the incident by the UKAEA. The first it knew about the incident was in an anonymous tip-off a week or so after it happened.

An unplanned £4 million-plus clean-up was mounted after the accidental spill of a quantity of highly-active waste in the cell in September 2005. The leak of about 400 litres of the water into the sump of the cell was spotted on August 20 last year.

The plant managers identified the source as being from a wet diamond-wire cutting operation.

As the UKAEA did not view any personnel had been put at risk or the clean-up impeded, it chose not to inform the NII. However, that should have been done, the NII has made clear. It learned of the incident in an anonymous call made to one of its site-based inspectors.

In its latest quarterly report, the NII states: "This event has not been properly reported to the NII as required by the UKAEA's procedures.

"No-one was put at risk as there is a large safety margin before overflow of the liquor from the cell could occur. However, this was a significant incident and will result in two additional drums of intermediate-level waste."

The UKAEA now acknowledges a UNOR should have been raised as soon as the leak was seen.

The cementation plant has been out of action since the spillage of the liquor in 2005.