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Sellafield Admits Safety Breach

British Nuclear Group faces an unlimited fine after pleading guilty to safety breaches following a radioactive leak.Magistrates at Whitehaven decided the accident deserved a stiffer penalty than the £15,000 they could impose. Acid containing about 20 tonnes of uranium and 160kg of plutonium escaped from a damaged pipe at the thermal oxide reprocessing plant, Thorp, at the Sellafield site, about 11 miles south of Whitehaven in Cumbria. The spillage at the UK\'s largest atomic complex was discovered by BNG officials in April 2005 but is understood to have gone unnoticed for eight months before that. The accident has cost £50m and the facility remains out of action although BNG hopes it will be able to obtain regulatory approval to restart the facility later this summer. BNG, which is to be sold to the private sector next year, told the court that all the leaked radioactive material had been contained within Thorp, that no one had been injured, and that there had been no risk to the public. An Inquiry Report into the accident makes clear that the breaches relate to failures by the company to make and comply with written instructions, and ensure that safety systems were in good working order and leaks were detected. Martin Forwood, a spokesman for Cumbrians Opposed to Radioactive Environment, said: \"BNG\'s own investigation into the accident admitted significant levels of negligence and incompetence by Thorp workers as ... contributing to the accident.\"