Staff at Sellafield nuclear waste processing plant have been told not to come to work unless they are “essential” after higher radiation levels were detected at the site.
The West Cumbrian site processes used nuclear fuel from closed power plants in the UK as well as “spent” fuel from abroad.
Sellafield said the reduced manning levels are a result of a “conservative and prudent decision”.
Elevated levels of radioactivity were detected at one of the on-site radiation monitors at the north end of the site.
In a statement the firm said: “Levels of radioactivity detected are above naturally occurring radiation but well below that which would call for any actions to be taken by the workforce on or off the site.”
Despite this Sellafield said there are “no abnormal conditions” at any of its buildings and they are operating normally.
A message to employees on the firm’s website said the site is to continue to operate on shift manning levels. But “day personnel” such as contractors are asked to stay at home.
Others from “5cycle, 12hr continuous shift” or laundry, canteen, utilities and
transport personnel are asked to attend work as normal.
It’s unclear whether this action has been taken before.
A spokesperson for the Office for Nuclear Regulation told ELN they were in contact with Sellafield and closely monitoring the situation. The watchdog is yet to decide whether an ONR investigation is warranted.
They added: “We are satisfied they are taking appropriate action.”