November 2012

Sellafield Ltd., the operator of a nuclear reprocessing site in northern England, faces prosecution over claims it sent four bags of radioactive waste to landfill, according to the U.K.’s nuclear and environmental regulators.

The company must answer charges it sent the bags from its Sellafield site to the Lillyhall landfill facility in nearby Workington in 2010, according to an e-mailed statement from the Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency today.

The prosecution of the company, which is responsible for nuclear waste management on behalf of the U.K.’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, follows a 2 1/2-year investigation by regulators. It faces nine charges to be heard at Workington Magistrates Court on Dec. 12, according to the statement.

As well as waste disposal at Lillyhall, the charges relate to transporting dangerous goods, lacking adequate management and resources to meet environmental obligations, and failing to use the best tests and measurements to comply with its environmental permit, the statement shows.

Sellafield will “take the time to consider the information provided to us” by the Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive, Karl Connor, a spokesman for the company, said today in an e-mailed statement, declining to comment further since the matter is subject to court proceedings.

The Sellafield site is home to the world’s first commercial nuclear power station, Calder Hall, which generated electricity from 1956 to 2003.

An “intolerable risk” is being posed by hazardous waste stored in run-down buildings at Sellafield nuclear plant, a watchdog has found.

The National Audit Office (NAO) also said that for 50 years, the operators of the Cumbria installation failed to develop a long-term plan for waste.

Costs of plant-decommissioning has also spiralled out of control, it said.

Operator Sellafield Ltd, said it welcomed the report’s findings and was “making improvements”.

The plant is the UK’s largest and most hazardous nuclear site, storing enough high and intermediate level radioactive waste to fill 27 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

The NAO report states however, that owners of the station do not know how long it will take to build storage and treatment centres for the hazardous material or how much the final bill for decommissioning the plant is likely to be.