Nuclear regulators filed nine charges against the company yesterday relating to the dumping of four bags of nuclear waste material in nearby Lillyhall landfill back in 2010. They claim Sellafield had not sought authorisation and breached permits as a result.

In 2011 the landfill site was given an official permit to handle low-level atomic material – previous to that, it was authorised to accept waste from Sellafield under specific exemptions.

This is the latest controversy to hit the nuclear operator, which for the past 60 years has handled Britain’s spent nuclear fuel.

The prosecution follows a highly critical report earlier this month from the National Audit Office which said hazardous waste stored in outdated buildings at the facility posed “intolerable risks”.

Following the report, Sellafield’s operators – Nuclear Management Partners – pledged to make improvements.

In a joint statement the Environment Agency and the Office for Nuclear Safety said: “The regulators’ joint action follows an extensive investigation.”

The case will be heard by an English court next month. In the meantime the nuclear industry is hoping the Government’s forthcoming energy reform bill will outline future financing of new plants and safer reprocessing of radioactive waste.

Maxine Perella

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