The nuclear safety watchdog, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) is considering action against the UK’s nuclear bomb factory following serious and repeated failings in its fire alarm systems.
In early 2014, the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) at Aldermaston in Berkshire reported two incidents where fire alarms had not worked properly in buildings containing radioactive materials.
The ONR will now decide whether to take enforcement action against AWE for breaching safety regulations.
It’s not the first time that AWE has fallen foul of safety regulations. In August 2010 a blaze erupted in an explosives facility at AWE Aldermaston – injuring a member of staff. The Health and Safety Executive prosecuted AWE and it was fined £200,000 at Reading Crown Court.
CND General Secretary Kate Hudson said:
‘This represents just a fraction of the litany of failures at AWE over recent years. From guards sleeping on the job, to missed deadlines on nuclear waste removal, blazes in explosives facilities and faulty fire alarms: how are we supposed to trust the Atomic Weapons Establishment?
It has shown itself to be either unwilling or incapable of meeting minimum safety regulations at a site which contains the most dangerous materials on British soil. The Trident nuclear weapons system is supposedly for our safety and security: but if the operation at AWE is anything to go by it simply represents a ticking timebomb of catastrophic proportions.’