The operator of the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant in Cumbria pleaded guilty to breaching safety regulations over a radioactive leak.

British Nuclear Group Sellafield (BNGSL) now faces an unlimited fine after a criminal hearing on June 8th.

At Whitehaven Magistrates Court the company admitted three breaches of the Sellafield site licence conditions.

The conditions of the Nuclear Installations Act (1965) require BNG, as Thorp’s operators, to make and comply with written instructions; to ensure safety systems are in good working order and to ensure radioactive material is contained and, if leaks occur, to make sure they are detected and reported.

However, magistrates decided that their limited powers – they could only fine BNG up to a maximum of £15,000 – were not enough. The hearing has now been adjourned for sentencing on 7th July at Carlisle Crown Court, where the fine could be unlimited. [more]