Scottish Nuclear Facility Evacuated After "Human Error" Triggers Radioactive Contamination

With HBO's Chernobyl mini-series re-heightening fears about nuclear power plants, headlines from The Aberdeen Press and Herald that workers were evacuated from part of Dounreay nuclear facility on northern Scotland after radioactive contamination was detected there, have spooked locals and raised questions about the decommissioned facility.

The incident occurred on June 7 but site bosses only publicly released details at a meeting of Dounreay Stakeholder Group on Wednesday evening.

Site managing director Martin Moore said human error was to blame for the episode which is the subject of an in-house probe.

“The contamination was very local but it wasn’t in a place it should have been, normally."

“The levels were insignificant but they should not have been there so we cleared the area and then had a controlled re-entry.”

“It came down to a lack of due diligence in monitoring around one of the barriers."

“It was human error. It shouldn’t have happened and we’re very disappointed that it did."

Dounreay, an experimental nuclear power site, is being demolished and cleaned up at a cost of £2.32bn in a job expected to last up until 2033.

Officials from Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd (DSRL), the company tasked with decommissioning the plant, said that the measure had been precautionary and that the public was never in any danger.

"There was no risk to members of the public, no increased risk to the workforce and no release to the environment. "

DSRL have already been censured for a safety violation at the same site in 2014, when a fire caused by employees released radioactivity into the atmosphere.

In the wake of that incident, the company promised to “learn lessons” and implement a wide-ranging new safety strategy, which seemingly turned out to have issues as well.