One sick worker shut Magnox plant

ONE worker’s sickness led to the closure of a major reprocessing plant – and cost Sellafield’s operators at least half a million pounds in lost production.

The Magnox nuclear fuel reprocessing plant (B205) was forced to shut for nearly five days last weekend after a specialist shift team leader went sick. There were not enough suitably qualified staff to take charge over the plant’s daily three eight-hour shifts.

Hundreds of people work in the Magnox plant but it requires shift leaders qualified to DAP standard (a “duly appointed person”) to supervise and ensure safety.
Nobody was available in the case of B205.

The plant had only recently resumed reprocessing after a “drip tray” incident, which caused it to shut for weeks.

It costs £100,000 a day to staff B205 whether open or shut, but the company was unable to give an estimated cost of lost production which might be recovered during the rest of the reprocessing campaign depending on performance.

Sellafield Ltd said that the plant was kept safe and new DAPs would be trained.
West Cumbria Stakeholders Group chairman, David Moore, said: “It should not have happened. You shouldn’t have to close an important reprocessing plant just because somebody is off sick.
“I am told that B205 had to be shut down due to insufficient senior manning levels. It flags up an issue which has to be resolved.

“With a workforce of over 10,000, you’d think enough people would be trained up so the site can cope with situations like this.

“The closure will have come at a significant cost to the company, you just can’t switch off B205 and switch it right back on again, it’s not as simple as that.”

It is understood that after talks with the unions, Sellafield Ltd will be training up more DAPs to avoid similar recurrences.

Peter Clements, Prospect site staff union representative, said: “There should be more but we are working out something to enable more training. The situation has been resolved.”

Sellafield Ltd described the sudden shutdown “as a pro-active and conservative approach to ensuring our plants are only operated when the highest levels of safety specialist cover is available.
“Team leaders in the affected plant are trained to what is known as Duly Appointed Person status, a highly-skilled role that requires extensive and lengthy training, which ensures that the highest level of safety coverage is available at all times.

“Due to sickness absence, the required DAP cover was not available over the weekend and as a consequence the company took the decision to temporarily stop operations at the affected plant.
“A programme of both training and recruiting of personnel is on-going in this area. Restart of the plant, which is presently working ahead of the planned schedule, is already under way.”

Source: North West Evening Mail

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