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Rolls Royce Marine Power Operations Ltd, a subsidiary of Rolls-Royce plc, has been hit with a fine of £200,000 after losing a source of radioactivity at its Derbyshire plant.

The firm has also been ordered to pay court costs amounting to £176,500.

Leicester Crown Court was told that there were significant failings leading to the radioactive source (held in a screw-sized capsule) being lost. Misplaced for several hours at the firm’s Sinfin Lane facility in March three years ago, workers were dangerously exposed to radiation.

Following an investigation jointly carried out between the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Environment Agency, the prosecution was launched.

The investigation found that after the material had been lost, the issue was compounded by a failure in the specialised radiography enclosure’s safety features and the radiographer who was in charge at the time. It was only highlighted when welders at the site found the capsule.

This process and the confusion between the radiographers ensured that a number of people handled the capsule directly before the situation was contained, without wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

Speaking following the court hearing, the HSE’s specialist radiation inspector, David Orr, commented:

“Industrial radiography carries a greater risk of radiation exposure compared to other industrial uses of radioactive sources by nature of the very high activity sources used. HSE expects companies carrying out such work to have robust safety systems and procedures in place to protect employees.”

Orr went on to say that Rolls Royce failed in its care duty in this regard – a view backed up by Mark Haslam, the Area Environment Manager for the Environment Agency.

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