HSE prosecutes over incident at Harwell

29 January 2001

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) is prosecuting the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) and AEA Technology, both of Harwell, Didcot, Oxfordshire, for alleged breaches of health and safety law.

The prosecution follows an investigation by HSE’s nuclear installations inspectorate into the circumstances leading up to and culminating in an incident on 9/10 September 1999 at the Harwell International Business Centre, part of the UKAEA site at Didcot. It is alleged that a process to recover silver from chemical solution being carried out by AEA Technology – a tenant on the site – led to the formation of potentially explosive compounds.

UKAEA initiated its emergency procedure, which included setting up an exclusion area around the building concerned. The Authority also sought assistance from a number of agencies, including HSE and the Ministry of Defence Explosives Ordnance Division (EOD). Two EOD officers, who entered the building to render the process vessel safe, were subsequently awarded the George Medal. No-one was injured in the incident.

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