Loss of radioactive source costs Rolls-Royce £376,500

4th November 2014

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Prosecution ,
  • Corporate fine ,
  • Business & Industry ,
  • Manufacturing ,
  • Other



Rolls-Royce Marine Power Operations has been fined £200,000 and ordered to pay £176,500 in costs for losing a capsule the size of a small screw for about five hours.

The capsule, a radioactive source containing ytterbium–169, was being used at the company’s Sinfin Lane site in Derby to test welds. The loss of the capsule resulted in a number of workers being exposed to high levels of gamma radiation.

Leicester crown court heard that at around 5am on 3 March 2011 the source was being used in a purpose-built radiography enclosure, but during the work the capsule became detached from its holder, ending up inside the component being tested.

This went undetected because at the end of the test a green light indicated that the radioactive material was back in its sealed container. The loss was discovered only when three welders who later worked on the component spotted the capsule and removed it for examination, passing it around.

A radiographer also handled the capsule before identifying the object as a radioactive source. The room was cleared at around 10am, and the radioactive source was recovered.

A joint investigation by the Health and Safety Executive and the Environment Agency found the workers’ hand exposure to radiation was considerably in excess of the annual permitted dose of 500 millisieverts.

In some cases, it was exceeded by up to 32 times the permitted amount. The regulators also discovered a number of procedural failings, including the failure to do a suitable and sufficient risk assessment for the gamma radiography work at Sinfin Lane, and a lack of training for personnel.

In addition to breaches of health and safety legislation, the company, a subsidiary of Rolls-Royce plc, pleaded guilty to three counts of contravening Regulation 38(2) of the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010, which covers non-compliance with permit conditions. Rolls Royce Marine Power Operations has since put safety measures in place to prevent a similar incident occurring.

Commenting on the case, Mark Haslam, area manager for the agency, said: “The most important thing is that the company has learnt the lessons from this and put improvements in place to ensure this does not happen again. Our overriding aim in regulating the use of radioactive materials is to ensure their safe management and control to protect the public and the wider environment from the harmful effects of radiation.”


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.

Transform articles

Fifth of UK food firms unprepared for deforestation regulation

One in five UK food businesses are not prepared for EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) coming into force in December, a new survey has uncovered.

16th May 2024

Read more

Regulatory gaps between the EU and UK are beginning to appear, warns Neil Howe in this edition’s environmental legislation round-up

4th April 2024

Read more

Dr Julie Riggs issues a call to arms to tackle a modern-day human tragedy

15th March 2024

Read more

The UK’s new biodiversity net gain (BNG) requirements could create 15,000 hectares of woodlands, heath, grasslands, and wetlands and absorb 650,000 tonnes of carbon each year.

13th March 2024

Read more

Campaign group Wild Justice has accused the UK government of trying to relax pollution rules for housebuilders “through the backdoor”.

14th February 2024

Read more

Digital tracking, packaging data delays and new collections provide a waste focus for this edition’s environmental round-up by legislation expert Neil Howe

28th November 2023

Read more

Environmental crimes could result in prison sentences of up to 10 years and company fines of 5% of turnover under a proposed EU law agreed by the European parliament and council.

21st November 2023

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close