A nuclear plant has been fined after two of its employees were exposed to radioactive dust particles.
The incident, which happened in July 2007, was a breach of section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. As a result the company were ordered to pay £75,000 with an additional £26,000 in legal costs.
The men were exposed to the substance whilst trying to remove a radioactive contamination from a patch of concrete floor following a spillage years earlier.
Plutonium dust was created when the workers were drilling the concrete patch in order to remove it. Some of this was inhaled directly.
Although there was no immediate impact on their health, both men’s exposure to the substance was high. When the two workers were removed from the enclosure and monitored, it was also found that the area had become heavily contaminated.
It is unlikely the men’s exposure will cause long term damage but it could have been much worse. A spokesperson for the HSE said “Although the radiation doses in this case were below the statutory dose limits, they could potentially have been higher. They should have been zero. The incident highlights the importance of Sellafield Ltd following its own arrangements for protecting workers, when undertaking potentially hazardous work with the risk of exposure to radiation.”