BNFL has still not met key point in Sellafield data scandal report

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British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) has still not managed to fulfil a key requirement ofthe Government's regulatory watchdog, which would allow it to reopen the troubled facility at Sellafield in Cumbria where safety data was falsified more than a year ago.

British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) has still not managed to fulfil a key requirement ofthe Government's regulatory watchdog, which would allow it to reopen the troubled facility at Sellafield in Cumbria where safety data was falsified more than a year ago.

Senior managers at BNFL have so far been unable to convince the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) that they have done everything to meet the final recommendation of a damning report on the falsification issue published last February.

The NII report into the scandal said that unless all 15 recommendations were fulfilled, BNFL would not be allowed to reopen the Mox Demonstration Facility (MDF) where the falsification took place.

Mike Weightman, head of the BNFL division within the NII, said yesterday that eight of the 15 recommendations had not been fulfilled, with the 15th being the most important that had yet to be met.

"Probably the one that will be most difficult to answer is the recommendation on why senior management allowed the situation to develop," Dr Weightman told The Independent.

"It is one that they are addressing and giving some thought to but this has wider implications than the MDF plant itself. We would look to see if they have sat back and thought deeply about it," he said.

Recommendation 15 strikes at the heart of how Sellafield was run and attempts to answer the question of who knew what and when, and why the information was not passed quickly to the NII inspectors on the Sellafield site at the time the company first learnt of the data falsification. The recommendation states: "BNFL should investigate why its senior management had allowed the situation in MDF to develop and provide a report to NII on how it intends to prevent a recurrence."

Laurence Williams, Her Majesty's chief inspector of nNuclear installations and the director of the NII, said it was unacceptable for BNFL managers to know that data had been falsified without telling the inspectors at Sellafield.

BNFL said it did not intend to reopen the MDF plant as a production facility but it still needed the NII's approval to use it for research and development.

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