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Sunday, 26 October 2014

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Sellafield staff given all-clear to go back to work

Sellafield staff are to return to work as normal on Monday after the atomic plant was given the all-clear following a radiation alert.

Thousands of workers were told to stay off work yesterday morning after an “elevated level of radiation” was detected overnight by a perimeter alarm.

The site operated on reduced manning levels throughout the day, while investigations were carried out by safety staff.

It was later discovered that the radioactivity detected by one of the in-air monitors was naturally occurring background radon.

A statement said they could confirm it was not due to any issue or problem with any operations on site.

“Our in-air monitors are extremely sensitive and pick up on any abnormality,” a spokesman said. “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.”

Earlier in the day, a site spokeswoman said that telling non-safety essential staff not to go into work was a “precautionary measure”.

“Until we found out exactly what had happened, it was safer to keep people off site. We are overly safety conscious,” she added.

The statement added: “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, while 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. We would like to thank our staff and the wider west Cumbrian community for their calm and mature response to events this morning.”

Standard weekend working operations are continuing at the plant.

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