EDF ENERGY, the operator of Torness Power Station near Dunbar, has moved to reassure residents they have not been put in any danger after it emerged there had been a radioactive leak at the plant earlier this year.

Officials from the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, now the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), were alerted in February after ground water was found to be contaminated with radioactive tritium leaking from two pipelines.

The incident is one of three at plants in the UK being investigated by the ONR, the Government's nuclear safety watchdog, which were also reported to ministers. Action by the firms which run the stations was said by the ONR to be appropriate.

A spokesperson for EDF Energy explained that the incident was "extremely minor" in nature and claimed that county communities had not been put in any danger by the leak. Use of the pipelines was suspended following the incident.

"Safety is always our number one priority and all of our plants, including Torness, have good safety records," said the spokesperson.

"We always report low scale events so that they can be dealt with efficiently and prevent development of anything more serious. There has never been an event higher than INES level 2 at any of EDF Energy's nuclear power stations.

"On February 21, Torness Power Station reported an event to our regulator, the then Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII). During routine sampling, we detected abnormal readings in water in one borehole.

"The readings were extremely low - one would have to drink one tonne of the fluid found to receive a dose equal to thirty minutes flying time in an aeroplane.

Through our policy of openness and transparency, as well as notifying our regulator, we wrote to members of our Local Liaison Committee, informing them of the findings.

"There was never any danger to staff, plant or the public." The other incidents, at Sellafield in Cumbria and at a plant in Hartlepool, also took place in February. They were reported under safety guidelines agreed after the Chernobyl accident in Ukraine 25 years ago.