§ Mr. McNamara
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry at what time she was informed of the accident at the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant on 8 February; at what time and how she alerted the Irish Government to potential risk; what steps she took in the first 24 hours to deal with the accident; what her assessment is of the discharge involved; how many employees were exposed to danger; what the cause of the accident was; and what steps she has taken to prevent a repetition. 968W
§ Mr. Wilson
[holding answer 18 March 2002]: BNFL reported an event during the recommissioning of defuelling plant at Calder Hall power station to my officials at 19.55 on Friday, 8 February. Calder Hall nuclear power station is situated on the Sellafield site but is not part of the nuclear reprocessing plant. My office received a short written brief on the circumstances at 15.15 on Monday, 11 February. I refer my hon. Friend to the Official Report, columns 356–57W for a statement on the event given on 6 March 2002. No discharges of any kind resulted and there was no danger at any time to any member of the work force, the public or to the environment.
The circumstances rated well below the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES) which defines categories of incidents and accidents, and they fell outside the criteria for passing information to the Irish Government on reportable incidents.
Defuelling at Calder Hall has been suspended until BNFL reports the outcome of its internal investigation and completes any requirements for remedial action to the satisfaction of the Health and Safety Executive's Nuclear Installations Inspectorate.