Alarm did not sound for Sizewell leak

CONTROL room staff at Sizewell A power station did not know about Sunday's leak of radioactive water from cooling plants until they were contacted by workers operating nearby, The Evening Star can reveal today.

By Paul Geater

CONTROL room staff at Sizewell A power station did not know about Sunday's leak of radioactive water from cooling plants until they were contacted by workers operating nearby, The Evening Star can reveal today.

No warning had sounded in the control room before the workers radioed in to say that water was leaking and covering their feet.

About 40,000 gallons of radioactive water gushed out of a four-foot long gash in a ten-inch wide pipe before it could be stopped by the control room. That is 40 per cent of the capacity of the competition pool at Crown Pools in Ipswich.

Sizewell spokesman Ross Proctor said: “It was such a big leak that the men working nearby noticed it immediately, the water started gushing out and flooding the floor.

“They called through to the control room immediately and the staff there stopped the pumps and closed off the valves but it doesn't take long for 40,000 gallons to flow out.”

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The workers had been splashed, but the radioactivity level was very low.

Mr Proctor added: “There is no risk of the water leaving the site, and it can be taken back to be treated as it would normally.”

A spokesman for the watchdog Nuclear Installations Inspectorate said: “We have an inspector on site, but it is too early to say how long the investigation will take.”

He said normally the results of the investigation would be published - although this could be delayed if the investigation uncovered breaches of safety that were so serious that a prosecution could follow.

“It is far too early to say anything about that+ we have to look at all aspects of what happened before any decisions on that are taken.”

The level of radiation in the water was very low, and the spokesman said had it been released into the sea - which it was not - it would not have breached the power station's radiation limit for the year.

He added: “But this was a serious incident and we have to ensure we know exactly what happened.”

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