AWE failing to manage nuclear waste
The Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), a consortium owned by SERCO, Lockheed Martin and Jacobs Engineering, has been reprimanded by the government watchdogs the Environmental Agency (EA) and the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) for failures in managing its hazardous waste.
According to the Guardian the EA had issued AWE with a "non-compliance" notice because key posts meant to ensure the safe handling of wastes had been vacant for months. It included waste officers, radioactive specialists and the head of environment. AWE blamed "security requirements" - which can include the vetting of prospective employees - for the delay in filling the vacancies.
According to the EA, AWE had breached conditions imposed in 2012 to ensure that enough skilled staff were employed to look after radioactive waste safely. AWE pointed out that the EA had found its radioactive waste arrangements to be “robust and identified a number of areas of good practice”.
At the same time the ONR was considering whether to take legal action over AWE’s failure to make 1,000 drums of hazardous radioactive waste safe. AWE promised in 2007 to repackage and reduce the waste by February 2014, but had not done so. AWE said it was “working with the ONR in support of its decision to formally investigate”. It pointed out that ONR was content that the way in which the waste was currently stored was “acceptable in the short term”.
Anti-nuclear campaigners, however, accused AWE of only taking action when regulators forced them to.
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