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Schlumberger fined £300,000 over North Sea radiation

image captionSchlumburger Oilfield UK was fined £300,000 at Aberdeen Sheriff Court

An offshore industry firm has been fined £300,000 after workers on a North Sea installation were placed at risk of exposure to radiation.

Schlumberger Oilfield UK admitted breaching health and safety laws on a rig during a drill programme in 2008.

Radioactive material was left lying on the drill floor for about four hours, during which time 14 workers were placed at risk of exposure.

The company was fined at Aberdeen Sheriff Court.

The incident happened in the North Sea, about 210 miles east of Dundee in April 2008.

Schlumberger had been contracted to undertake work as part of a Maersk drilling programme for the Cawdor well.

'Good fortune'

Elaine Taylor, head of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service's health and safety division, said: "This wholly avoidable incident could have had devastating consequences for the workers involved in the operation."

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Insp Gillian Rodaks said: "Loss of control of any radioactive source is extremely serious, particularly of the size involved in this incident, and it was only by good fortune that the source was recovered in a relatively short period of time.

"Had someone held it, even just for a few minutes, they would have received a significant radiation dose which may have resulted in injuries to their hands and increased their risk of developing cancer in later life.

"This case should serve to remind employers and employees, whether in industry, medicine or research, of the need to be constantly vigilant when working with radioactive sources."