Sellafield Ltd have said they 'regret' dumping five bags of low level radio active waste at a landfill site at Workington and that they 'accept responsibility' for the incident.
Today the company lost their high court appeal against a £700,000 fine imposed last year.
We regret this incident and accept our responsibility for what happened. We have strengthened our procedures and must now continue our focus on the safe and secure running of the Sellafield Site.
"We are pleased to see the Court’s recognition that there was no actual harm and indeed a very low risk of harm.
" We are also pleased to see his comment that we made guilty pleas at the first available opportunity, the very considerable cooperation that Sellafield Ltd displayed after the discovery of the failures and that both these factors deserve very considerable credit..."
Lord Thomas said that Sellafield deserved very considerable credit for the guilty pleas made at the first available opportunity and the very considerable co-operation it displayed after the discovery of the failures.
In considering the appeal, the court also took into account its previous offences.
The court had regard to its turnover of £1.6 billion - or £30.7 million per week - and its annual profit of £29m - or £560,000 per week.
Lord Thomas said It was clear that viewed in the light of those financial circumstances, a fine of £700,000 after a guilty plea was a fine which reflected a case where the culpability was moderate, the actual harm in effect nil and the risk of harm very low.
"A fine of the size imposed, even though only a little more than a week's profit and about 2% of its weekly income, would, in our view, in the circumstances achieve the statutory purposes of sentencing by bringing home to the directors of Sellafield Ltd and its professional shareholders the seriousness of the offences committed and provide a real incentive to the directors and shareholders to remedy the failures which the judge found existed at the site at Sellafield."
Sellafield ltd has lost its appeal against fines levied against them last year.
In February, the company was fined £700,000 for sending bags of radioactive waste to a landfill site.
The bags, which contained waste such as plastic, tissues and clothing, should have been sent to a specialist facility that treats and stores low-level radioactive waste, but a number of management and operational failings led to them being sent to Lillyhall landfill site in Workington, Cumbria.
Today, the Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas, sitting in the Court of Appeal with Mr Justice Mitting and Mrs Justice Thirlwall, said there were no grounds for criticising the level of fines imposed.
Sellafield has been fined £700,000 for sending bags of radioactive waste to a landfill site in Cumbria. The bags containing waste such as plastic, tissues and clothing were sent to Lillyhall landfill site in Workington in April 2010.
The bags should have been sent to a specialist facility. Sellafield found the error was caused by the wrong configuration of a new monitor which passed the bags as "general" waste making them exempt from strict disposal controls.
This breached the conditions of Sellafield's environmental permit and the Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment Regulations.
While this incident did not lead to any significant harm being caused to the public or to the environment, the failings by Sellafield Ltd that led to the incident were serious and we consider that on this occasion, Sellafield Ltd fell well short of the high standards which we expect from them."
– Ian Parker, nuclear regulation manager, Environment Agency
Sellafield Limited deeply regrets this incident and we want to assure our stakeholders we've put in additional controls and checks and balances to ensure that any risks from future occurrences is mitigated. Also, any kind of impact to the environment was low.
– Tom Foster, Executive Director, Sellafield Limited
Sellafield Ltd have responded to a report by the National Audit Office which warns of the immense financial and technical challenges that lie ahead in decommissioning the giant Sellafield nuclear site in West Cumbria. In a statement Sellafield Ltd said:
"We welcome the report and are pleased that the NAO recognise the globally unique challenge we are facing in cleaning up and decommissioning the site.
"In their report the NAO also highlight a number of areas for improvement, mainly focusedaround the project management scope of work, which equates to around a quarter of ourannual budget.
"This is a problem we have recognised, and we have already taken steps to strengthen ourapproach, both in terms of how we manage projects as a whole and how we develop better,more beneficial relationships with the supply chain."