Radioactive waste went astray because of a blunder by one of Scotland’s nuclear power stations at Torness in East Lothian, the Sunday Herald can reveal.
The revelation comes as the nuclear industry is proposing to transport significant amounts of potentially dangerous wastes across Scotland, and against the background of a steep rise in nuclear transport accidents.
It has prompted angry reactions from environmental groups, who accuse the industry of an “alarming foul-up”. They say that radioactive waste should be looked after where it is created, rather than being moved around the country.
The French operator of Torness, EDF Energy, has been reprimanded by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) for breaking the rules meant to ensure that radioactive waste is safely handled. It wrongly sent 28 oil drums containing 26 litres of radioactive sludge to be recycled at a plant near the Sellafield nuclear complex in Cumbria.
When this was discovered in April the waste had to be sent back to Torness, where it is still awaiting disposal. According to Sepa, EDF Energy was not authorised to dispose of such “oily sludges” at a low level waste repository in Cumbria.