By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor The Independent
Published: 18 March 2007

Safety alarms have been routinely ignored, operating instructions flouted, and safety equipment left broken at the controversial Sellafield nuclear plant, a devastating official inquiry has found.

The inquiry report – one of the most damning ever on a British nuclear installation – condemns “an alarm-tolerant culture”, “long-standing failings in some key safety arrangements” and a “failure to learn from previous events” at the Cumbrian complex.

The accident at the Thorp reprocessing plant – which was disclosed by The Independent on Sunday in 2005 – has kept the plant closed ever since, and was the focus of the investigation.

Some 83,000 litres of highly radioactive liquid leaked at the plant for at least eight months before the spill was detected.