Alarm at Sellafield

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The Independent Online
The dangers of decommissioning old nuclear facilities were highlighted yesterday when it was revealed that 13 workers were involved in a radiation scare as they dismantled equipment at the Sellafield reprocessing plant. Two of the workers are awaiting the results of "biological" tests, which involve examining blood and faeces samples for radioactivity.

According to British Nuclear Fuels, which owns the Cumbrian plant, the alarm was raised earlier this week when a bag containing an old air filter from a plutonium finishing building split, releasing dust and plutonium oxide into the air.

Initial tests showed that 11 of the employees had not been contaminated but it is thought that two had been exposed to the dust. The leak was contained to the building, according to a spokeswoman, and no members of the public were put at risk. "They are not ill or injured or sick," said the spokeswoman ... They were put through a body monitor after the incident and found to be clear, but we are awaiting the results of the biological tests to be sure."

BNFL said yesterday that it would conduct its own inquiry into the incident, in addition to an investigation by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, a branch of the Health and Safety Executive.