The CEO of Sellafield has refuted claims of safety lapses and a cyber-attack on the nuclear facility in Cumbria.

Euan Hutton dismissed reports of computer systems being hacked, stating that there is no evidence of Sellafield’s IT networks being targeted by foreign government-linked groups.

He also denied serious safety concerns raised in recent Guardian articles.

Sellafield, known as Western Europe’s most hazardous nuclear site, has transitioned from electricity generation to mainly treating and storing nuclear waste.

With 11,000 employees, the facility is engaged in decommissioning and maintaining structures.

The UK’s civil plutonium stockpile, tightly secured with 140 tonnes of material, is also housed at Sellafield.

Contrary to a Guardian report alleging cyber-attacks by groups associated with Russia and China, Hutton assured the BBC in an exclusive interview that there is “absolutely no evidence” of any attack on their systems.

He emphasized the presence of robust multi-layer protection systems and a 24/7-staffed cyber security operations center.

While the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) acknowledged no evidence of state actor penetration, it expressed concerns about Sellafield’s cyber security standards.

Hutton admitted to weaknesses and revealed an agreed plan with regulators to enhance cyber defenses.

Sellafield faced criticism over aging facilities, particularly an open-air pond storing nuclear fuel and a leaking storage silo.

Hutton acknowledged cracks in the pond’s structure but emphasized monitoring and understanding potential risks.

The CEO outlined ongoing efforts to address the leaking silo, assuring a safe waste removal process despite its time-consuming nature.

Responding to allegations of a toxic workplace culture, Hutton rejected claims of bullying, harassment, sexual misconduct, and drug use.

He emphasized the company’s commitment to addressing safety concerns promptly.

Recent concerns prompted Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho to seek urgent attention from the ONR, and the GMB union expressed no surprise at the allegations.

Labour’s Ed Miliband called for government assurances regarding Sellafield’s operations.

Last Updated: 18 December 2023