The Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) in Aldermaston, Berkshire, will remain under increased scrutiny for the second year running, the Government’s nuclear safety watchdog has announced.
The nuclear weapons factory at AWE Aldermaston was served with an improvement notice in 2013 by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) after a number of safety concerns were raised by the safety body.
Issues involve “ageing facilities” and the disposal of 1,000 drums of radioactive waste.
The move follows a string of previous safety concerns – including a safety breach during a fire at the site in 2010, which resulted in a £200,000 fine.
ONR’s report stated:
‘We are currently investigating AWE Aldermaston’s apparent failure to meet a formal regulatory requirement… that required the reduction in volume and encapsulation of 1,000 drums of intermediate level waste by February 2014.
‘We are also in discussion with AWE about events relating to shortfalls in the operability and availability of building fire detection systems.
‘For both matters we will consider whether enforcement action is appropriate.’
Just last month, CND’s General Secretary Kate Hudson described AWE Aldermaston as a ‘ticking timebomb’ following the ‘litany of failures at AWE over recent years’ including fires, faulty alarm systems, guards sleeping on the job and errors over the removal of nuclear waste.
She concluded: ‘It has shown itself to be either unwilling or incapable of meeting minimum safety regulations at a site which contains the most dangerous materials on British soil. The Trident nuclear weapons system is supposedly for our safety and security: but if the operation at AWE is anything to go by it simply represents a ticking timebomb of catastrophic proportions.’