North West TC Simon Evans

Nuclear waste management firm Sellafield has escaped action at a public inquiry (PI) after it failed to disclose fines totalling £700,000 to the traffic commissioner (TC).

North West TC Simon Evans issued the company with a warning after it failed to notify the Office of the Traffic Commissioner (OTC) of the conviction, which was handed out in 2013 in relation to its handling of nuclear waste, in a timely manner.

The Seascale, Cumbria-based operator attended a hearing in Golborne earlier this month to discuss the TC's  concerns about the repute of the company and its transport managers.

It was convicted of seven offences in relation to its handling of nuclear waste in 2010. It was fined £100,000 on each offence at Carlisle Crown Court in 2013, and at a subsequent Court of Appeal hearing the judge referred to the company's laxness and complacency.

The TC said there was nothing to the detriment of the company in regard to transport compliance and there was a 100% pass rate at annual test on the HGV-side of the business.

Company secretary Andrew Carr said that the offences arose on a new waste route it had been working on and had been trying to achieve the best possible way of dealing with the waste.  Mistakes were made in relation to the procurement and use of new equipment.

Solicitor Alison Messenger said that the offences were not deliberate. She said the problem that had led to the convictions was not an ongoing issue and it had had no impact on the transport operations, which were carried out at a very high level of compliance.

She claimed the failure to notify the OTC in a timely manner was due to a misunderstanding and there had not been any deliberate concealment. It was something that came to light at the time the O-licence was reviewed.

Transport manager John Thomas said that the goods vehicles primarily moved their own material, occasionally travelling to Germany and Sweden.

Taking no action other than to issue the warning, the TC said there was always a suspicion that operators were not operating compliantly when they did not notify convictions in a timely manner.

The firm holds an international goods vehicle O-licence authorising 35 vehicles and 68 trailers and a national PSV O-licence authorising 20 vehicles.

By Michael Jewell