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Manchesteronline: Nuclear leak at Sellafield
A NUCLEAR reprocessing plant at Sellafield has closed after a radioactive leak.
The spill of a highly dangerous mix of nuclear fuel dissolved in concentrated nitric acid into a huge stainless steel chamber is not a danger to the public.
But it may take months to clean up because the chamber is now so radioactive that it is impossible to enter.
Experts may have to build special robots to recover the 20 tonnes of liquid contaminated with uranium and plutonium and fix the pipe at the £2.1bn plant.
The fuel will have to be siphoned off and stored until the pipe is repaired to conform to international safeguards preventing nuclear materials falling into the wrong hands. But engineers have yet to come up with a way of doing this.
Although most of the material is uranium, the fuel contains about 200kg of plutonium, enough to make 20 nuclear weapons.
Originally posted by Bulldog 52
Perhaps this is breaking news , ive not seen anything on TV about this.Perhaps the Government wants to keep this low profile and treating its citizens like mushrooms.
Guardian: Close nuclear leak plant for good, says Sellafield
May 15, 2005
The owner of the Sellafield site in Cumbria, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, wants its main reprocessing facility to shut forever following a leak of highly radioactive liquefied nuclear fuel containing plutonium and uranium.
In any event, the leak of some 20 tonnes of uranium and plutonium fuel, dissolved in nitric acid, will keep the Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant (Thorp) shut for months.
But senior sources at the NDA, the government body set up to dismantle radioactive facilities at 20 sites across the UK, now believes that keeping the plant shut is the most economical option
Bellona: Recovery of radioactive leakage in UK to take four weeks
The recovery of highly radioactive leakage resulting from a leak discovered April 18 within the fuel clarification cell of the Thorp reprocessing facility at the UK’s Sellafield site began late last week, and will take around four weeks to recover a British Nuclear Group official told Bellona Web.
The BNG official sad that the incident—which ranked a “3”corresponding to a “serious incident” on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES)—that conditions within the cell remain stable and safe. The “3” rating on the INES sale is one step short of a nuclear “accident without significant off-site risk.
The Independent: Revealed: huge Sellafield leak went undetected for 9 months
29 May 2005
Full scale disclosed of worst nuclear accident for decade. Catalogue of human error led to massive radioactive discharge. Accident may force ministers to shut troubled plant for good
Tens of thousands of litres of highly radioactive liquid leaked unnoticed for up to nine months from a ruptured pipe in the controversial Thorp reprocessing plant at Sellafield in what the IoS can reveal was Britain's worst nuclear accident for 13 years.
British Nuclear Group, the company that runs the plant, last night admitted that workers failed to respond to "indicators" warning a badly designed pipe had sprung a leak as long ago as last August. The pool of nuclear liquor, 83,000 litres, was eventually discovered on 19 April. The company has ordered a review to check for other potential leaks caused by metal fatigue and an urgent drive against staff "complacency".
BusinessGazette: N-PLANT LEAK 'AN ERROR WORTHY OF HOMER SIMPSON'
Published in Times & Star on Friday, June 3rd 2005
A RADIOACTIVE leak at Sellafield’s Thorp plant, which could have been missed for up to nine months, was a failure “worthy of Homer Simpson” a senior politician has claimed.
Shadow Trade Secretary David Willetts made the comparison with the inept cartoon nuclear plant worker while calling for answers on the seepage of fuel from a faulty pipe.
The Conservative spoke out after the findings of a report into the leak that closed the Thorp reprocessing plant in April were published.
It revealed engineering faults and a human failure to act on leak indicators as fast as they should have.
Belfast Telegraph: Nuclear waste in corroding towers 'yet another worry'
06 June 2005
Towers storing nuclear waste from the 1950s are starting to corrode and are yet another worry at Sellafield, according to a European Parliament team which visited the UK facility on a fact-finding mission last week.
Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness said she came home with little confidence in how the plant is being run after touring the facility with two other MEPs late last week.
The recent revelation that a highly radioactive leak at Thorp - the thermal oxide reprocessing plant at Sellafield - may have gone undetected for almost a year is worrying enough, she said. However, after looking around the plant herself, Ms McGuinness said she was disturbed by some of what she saw.
"We were shown towers of waste material from the '50s that had started corroding, and every scrap of it had to be re-wrapped in concrete," she said. "But what we need is for this plant to be managed almost to infinity by experts."
"This should not have happened. It's incredible," was her view of the finding that the material had leaked due to metal fatigue in a pipe.
"They only discovered it late in the day, almost by accident, and yet it should be checked on a daily basis. To compound this horror, Sellafield management now admit that they missed detecting this very serious leak for several months," she added.
Some analysts suggest that coal-fired power plants expose nearby residents to higher radiation doses than nuclear plants meeting U. S. government regulations. 141 Among the other trace elements listed in Table 3, coal contains between