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BNFL subsidiary stores DU in cardboard boxes!

The Independent reported recently that DU was being stored in cardboard boxes by a subsidiary of BNFL. Westinghouse Government Services, in which BNFL group has a 40 per cent stake, was criticised in a report into its $600m (£380m) contract to clean up an old nuclear bomb factory at Savannah River in South Carolina. a massive nuclear clean-up operation in the US, run by a subsidiary of BNFL, has been slammed by inspectors for having poor safety management and cost control. Inspectors from the US Department of Energy found that WGS had an "inadequate and ineffective" approach to "risk prioritisation" when dealing with safety and a "limited probability of success" in managing costs. The nuclear watchdogs also exposed unsafe storage of 22,000 tonnes of depleted uranium managed by Westinghouse at Savannah River. It is stored in drums, cardboard and wooden boxes inside "corroded" buildings on timbers that have "rotted and failed".

The DofE made a site visit during the summer and found that WGS avoided difficult and expensive work, such as building decommissioning and stabilising nuclear material. It said WGS "weighs business elements more heavily (by a factor of three) than risk elements" and had a system that did not differentiate between small and large accidents.

The damaging report came at an embarrassing time for BNFL, as the draft Bill to set up a £48bn agency to sort out Britain's nuclear legacy was highlighted in the Queen's Speech only the week before the report came out, last November. BNFL is expected to be central to this clean-up.

BNFL said it was not the lead contractor on the Savannah River project and referred all calls to Washington Group, its partner, which was not available for comment.

Read more articles about The Nuclear Industry and the Production of Depleted Uranium

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Page last updated: January 28, 2003