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Sellafield starts inquiry after Japanese nuclear waste flasks contaminated via News & Star

By Julian Whittle

Last updated at 12:45, Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Sellafield has launched an investigation into how the surface of three nuclear waste containers shipped to Japan became contaminated with radioactive material.

The containers were part of a cargo of 76 canisters of vitrified high-level waste.

They were found to be contaminated when they were unloaded at the Rokkasho storage facility in northern Japan.

Sellafield says that, following subsequent checks, two containers turned out to be within Japanese radiation limits but one was above the threshold.

There was no sign of contamination when the canisters left Sellafield inside three sealed flasks.

A Sellafield spokesman said: “Initial inspections have been carried out on the first containers to be unloaded and the measured surface contamination results exceeded the acceptance criteria for storage in Japan. Further checks are being carried out while investigations into the cause take place in the UK and Japan.”

The shipment is the second consignment of highly-active waste returned from Sellafield to Japan.

*emphasis added

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