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Environment Minister concerned for future safety at Sellafield 18 October 2006

Isle of Man Government Environment Minister, John Rimington MHK, has again expressed his concern for the future safe operation of the Sellafield nuclear site, following the £500,000 fine imposed on British Nuclear Group Sellafield Ltd. His principal concern is that Sellafield safety guarantees, issued by the UK Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, will prove ineffective in the event of the future privatisation, or break-up, of Sellafield’s existing management company - British Nuclear Group.

It is already known that the UK Government wishes to sell off British Nuclear Group, which could, in turn, result in the break-up of the existing ‘integrated’ management at the site.

The Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, which regulates Sellafield, has stressed the importance of the highest standard of safety. However, proposals to put future operating contracts out to competitive bidding, amongst several UK and foreign nuclear companies, could divert management’s attention from Sellafield’s operational activities and so compromise safety.

Commenting on the potential consequences of the substantial penalty imposed on British Nuclear Group, at Carlisle Crown Court on 16th October, John Rimington MHK said,

“I am very concerned that such a serious leak of radioactive material could occur within the THORP plant and go unnoticed for so long. Thankfully it was contained on this occasion, but what concerns me for the future safety of Sellafield is the UK Government’s process to bring in contractorisation of work at Sellafield. This has been widely described in the UK media as ‘a shambles and a mess’. My Department maintains regular contact with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, which now owns the Sellafield site, and I certainly hope that the NDA will provide me with reassurance that, should Sellafield’s future operating contracts be issued to new management companies, the very highest degree of safety will be maintained.”

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