The operators of the Sellafield nuclear facility in the UK are to be prosecuted after two employees of a contractor, received a "higher than anticipated" dose of radiation.
Sellafield Ltd, which operates the Sellafield nuclear facility, has been charged with failure to discharge its duty under Secton 3(1) of the Health and Safety Act 1974 and the case will be heard at Whitehaven Magistrates' Court on 24 July.
According to reports, two workers who were engaged in refurbishing a floor at the site's plutonium finishing and storage plant received a ''higher than anticipated'' dose of radiation in July 2007.
A spokeswoman for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said, "The two contractors were exposed during the decontamination of an area of concrete floor.''
She added that according to the information available with them, the two workers have not shown any illness due to the incident and the level of dose received would indicate the likelihood of adverse long-term effects was low.
The company has confirmed that the incident did take place, but declined comment as a legal case was under way.
Earlier this month, the company revealed a low-level leak at the nuclear reprocessing plant having gone undetected for 14 months. However, it caused no contamination to any person.
The maximum penalty the company may have to pay is £20,000, however the case could be referred to a higher court for an unlimited fine.
The HSE said that the prosecution of Sellafield in relation to the incident was now a matter for the court and HSE was not able to comment further on the decision to prosecute.
Sellafield (formerly known as Windscale), near the village of Seascale in Cumbria, England is a nuclear processing and former electricity generating site. It was previously owned and operated by British Nuclear Fuels plc (BNFL), but is now operated by Sellafield Ltd and since 1 April 2005 is under ownership of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.
The site houses the THORP and Magnox nuclear fuel reprocessing plants as also Calder Hall, the world's first commercial nuclear power station, now in the process of decommissioning. In 1981 the name of the site was changed back from Windscale to Sellafield.