Friday, January 31, 2014

Sellafield alert was caused by spike in naturally occurring Radon gas

Last night one of the perimeter air monitors at Sellafield, a site which has a very large number of radiation sensors, detected a spike in background radiation levels. This was well below the level of radiation which would have constituted a hazard, but the management took a responsible precautionary decision, in line with policies and approved procedures, to operate the site at reduced staffing levels today while they investigated.

The BBC made rather a meal of this routine precaution, but it has now been confirmed that the spike was due to naturally occurring radon gas.

A spokesman for Sellafield Ltd told "Cumbria Crack:

“Our in-air monitors are extremely sensitive and pick up on any abnormality. Overnight the monitoring system initially indicated elevated levels of activity. Following investigation and analysis, we can now confirm these levels to be naturally occurring background radon.

“The number one priority for us is, at all times, safe secure stewardship of the Sellafield site, which is the most complex and challenging nuclear site in Europe.

“As such we act in a safety conscious manner, and take cautious, conservative decisions, such as the one taken overnight to ask non-safety essential staff to stay at home this morning, rather than come to the site.

“All of our plants and storage facilities were quickly confirmed as operating normally, and we were always confident that the issue posed no risk to the workforce or public because the levels being detected, whilst above background radiation levels, were still low. This view was reinforced by the fact that none of our other installed monitors were picking up any kind of increased levels – however, we take such issues so seriously that we investigated fully to confirm that everything was okay."

More details at the Cumbria Crack website here.

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