A secret plant which enriches uranium for Britain’s nuclear warheads has been shut down over safety fears after a vital “structural steelwork’’ was found to have suffered corrosion, according to media reports citing information published in a newsletter of the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR).
The plant at Aldermaston — a village in Berkshire, South-East England — was closed following inspections by ONR which found that one of the “older manufacturing facilities’’ at the complex did not conform to standards that require such buildings to withstand “extreme weather and seismic events’’.
The Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), a consortium of three private companies, including America’s Lockheed Martin and Jacobs Engineering Group, has been ordered to fix the problem by the end of this year.
“ONR investigated, and found that AWE had not fully complied with Licence Condition 28(1) in so far as its arrangements to examine, maintain and inspect the structure were not adequate to prevent the degradation of the structure, and the resulting challenge to its nuclear safety functions,” said an ONR spokesman quoted by The Independent.
The plant, which builds components for the Trident ballistic nuclear missiles on the Royal Navy submarines, has not been officially named for national security reasons but is known as A45, according to The Guardian.