Workers evacuated after contamination found at former nuclear power station

The Dounreay plant in Thurso, Caithness. Picture: Ian Rutherford
The Dounreay plant in Thurso, Caithness. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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Radioactive contamination at a former nuclear power plant caused the evacuation of workers, it has been revealed.

The incident at the Dounreay plant, in Thurso, occurred on June 7 but was only revealed at a Wednesday meeting of the plant’s stakeholder group, the Press and Journal reported.

The MD of the plant, which is in the process of being decommissioned, was quoted in the paper as blaming human error for the incident, which is being investigated internally.

Martin Moore told the Dounreay Stakeholder Group that no harm had come from the ‘low-level’ contamination in the plant’s fuel cycle area.

‘Hotspots’ were subsequently discovered within the plant, leading to the evacuation of all workers on the £2.32bn decommissioning project.

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Mr Moore said: “The contamination was very local but it wasn’t in a place it should have been, normally.

“The levels were insignificant but they should not have been there so we cleared the area and then had a controlled re-entry.”

“It was human error. It shouldn’t have happened and we’re very disappointed that it did.

“We took this very seriously and the teams responded well and our investigation is well under way.”

A spokesperson for Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd told the P and J: “Earlier this month, an employee at Dounreay detected low levels of radioactive contamination during routine personal monitoring while exiting a controlled area.

“As a precaution, work in the area stopped immediately and an investigation was launched. The individual was wearing the correct protective clothing for the area. They have since returned to work and operations have returned to normal.

“There was no risk to members of the public, no increased risk to the workforce and no release to the environment.”

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