November 15, 2018

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In Court

£1m fine – nuclear weapons factory safety breaches

The UK’s nuclear weapons factory has been fined £1m for failing to ensure the safety of its staff. It was also ordered to pay costs of £26,096.

An electrician suffered burns to his arm in June 2017, while carrying out routine testing at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) in Berkshire.

The prosecution was brought by the Office of the Nuclear Regulator, the UK’s independent nuclear safety watchdog.

AWE said it “deeply regrets” the injury to the member of staff and that it did not meet its “usually high standards”.

ONR’s investigation into the injury deemed it to be a health safety matter and there were no radiological risks to workers or the public.

Earlier concerns

Nuclear inspectors had raised concern about the safety of staff involved in this test work two years earlier.

Donald Urquhart, of the ONR, said: “We welcome [this] outcome which recognises that AWE fell short in its duty to protect a worker.”

In a statement, AWE said a full review of electrical safety processes and systems across the AWE sites had since been carried out, with “actions being taken to minimise the risk of recurrence.”

The Aldermaston site is responsible for making Britain’s Trident nuclear warheads and stores nuclear waste from Royal Navy submarines.

AWE had previously pleaded guilty to the offences under the Health and Safety at Work Act at Reading Magistrates’ Court.

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