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Britain's Sellafield nuclear plant reports elevated level of radioactivity

UK authorities have sought to allay public concerns after reports that elevated levels of radioactivity had been detected at a nuclear plant. The Sellafield facility is operating at reduced staffing levels as a result.

Britain's Department of Energy and Climate Change said it did not believe that an incident at the nuclear reprocessing plant in Cumbria on Friday was any worse than reported by Sellafield Ltd., the company that operates the facility.

"We are in constant contact with Sellafield, but we have no reason to believe that it is any more serious than they've said," a spokesman told the Reuters news agency.

Earlier, Sellafield Ltd released a statement in which it stressed that there was no increased risk to the public or workers at the plant.

Essential staff only

It said that after higher-than-normal levels of radioactivity had been detected at the plant, only essential workers had been asked to turn up for work on Friday. The statement described the move as a "conservative and prudent" decision and said the plant was continue to operate "normally."

"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," the statement added.

pfd/ph (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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