'Bullying, racism and sexual harassment' at Sellafield nuclear plant

‘Toxic culture’ of bullying, racism and sexual harassment exists at Britain’s largest nuclear plant Sellafield that could lead to ‘disaster’ whistleblowers claim

  • Workers said behaviour could lead to a ‘disaster’ at the Sellafield site in Cumbria
  • One employee claimed that managers did nothing when he was ‘racially taunted’
  • Another said a manager asked if she had performed sexual favours to get ahead
  • Another claimed that a line manager had called their autistic employee a ‘mong’

Whistleblowers have exposed a ‘toxic culture’ of bullying, racism and sexual harassment at Britain’s largest nuclear plant.

Workers said the abusive behaviour could lead to a ‘disaster’ at the Sellafield site in Cumbria.

One employee claimed bosses did nothing when he was ‘racially taunted’ by a driver going through the plant.

A woman said a senior manager asked if she had performed sexual favours to get ahead in the job.

Another claimed a line manager called his autistic worker a ‘mong’, while a Muslim staffer said a trainer said the biggest threat was ‘bearded men in flip-flops’.

In a letter to bosses, they said: ‘He then singled me out and mockingly looked under the table at my shoes.’

Experts blasted the alleged behaviour as a ‘toxic culture’ and a ‘recipe for disaster’ due to the dangerous chemicals kept on site.

Workers said the abusive behaviour could lead to a ‘disaster’ at the Sellafield site in Cumbria (file photo)

Alison McDermott, a senior consultant working on an equality strategy, told the BBC: ‘When I started working there, it quickly became apparent there was rampant bullying in the organisation.

‘This is a nuclear site, where many employees are demoralised, bullied and scared to speak out.

‘You’ve got toxic materials and a toxic culture, if you put those two together then you’ve got a recipe for disaster.’

She noted an internal staff survey from 2018 which found just 54 per cent of staff thought they ‘could speak out about doing the right thing without fear of reprisals’.

Ms McDermott is taking Sellafield to an employment tribunal as she claims she was sacked for whistleblowing.

She lost her job in October 2018 – having started in 2017 – just days after her internal report slammed the human resources team.

Alison McDermott, a senior consultant working on an equality strategy, told the BBC : ‘When I started working there, it quickly became apparent there was rampant bullying in the organisation’

Sellafield, which is owned by the government’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and has a 10,000-strong workforce, reject her claims.

A spokesman said: ‘We’re committed to ensuring all of our employees are respected… and able to perform at their best.’

But it added that it had ‘more work to do’.

They continued: ‘We’re committed to ensuring all of our employees are respected, included, and able to perform at their best.

‘We are working hard to improve our processes so employees can have confidence that when issues are raised, they are dealt with.

‘We accept we have more work to do in this area but we remain as committed as ever to eradicating unacceptable behaviour from our workplace.’

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