An investigation has been launched after a worker at the Faslane naval base on the Clyde was mistakenly exposed to radiation.
The incident happened in June, but was only revealed in a report posted online last week by the UK government’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR). It said that an operator had received a “small dose” from a radiography source used for checking materials.
“The incident in question occurred during a standard procedure and involved a radiographer approaching the source while it was still exposed,” said an ONR spokeswoman. “On realising this, the radiographer returned to the control device and ensured the source was retracted. The dose accrued was below any notifiable limit.”
She added: “ONR is still awaiting the outcome of HM Navel Base Clyde’s investigation and it is therefore not appropriate to comment in detail at this time.”
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) stressed that the safety of workers was its priority. “During a radiographic procedure similar to an x-ray, a trained member of staff was briefly exposed to 0.037 milliSieverts of radioactive materials,” said an Mod spokeswoman.
“This is well below the safety limit of 0.3 milliSieverts. The worker was in no way harmed.”
But John Ainslie, the co-ordinator of the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, pointed out that this was just the latest in a series of safety lapses at the base. “If Faslane is not able to properly handle the radiography sources that are used for routine work, what confidence can we have in its ability to keep the public safe from an accident involving a nuclear weapon or a nuclear reactor?” he asked.