Merlin v British Nuclear Fuels plc: 1990

The plaintiffs claimed that their house had been damaged by radioactive material that had been discharged into the Irish Sea from Sellafield which had subsequently become deposited in their house as dust.
Held: The l965 Act required them to established that there had been damage to property, meaning tangible property. He went on to reject the plaintiffs’ claim that the house included the air space within the walls, ceilings and floors and that it had been damaged by the presence of radioactive material which had resulted in the house being rendered less valuable. All that had happened was that the house had been contaminated and that did not amount to damage to property which was the type of damage for which the Act provided compensation. The fact that the house was less valuable was the economic result of the presence of radioactive material, not the result of damage to the house from the radioactive properties of the material.


Gatehouse J


[1990] 2 QB 557, [1991] CLY 2662, [1990] 3 WLR 383


Nuclear Installations Act 1965 7 8 9 10 11 12


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedTransco plc v Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council HL 19-Nov-2003
Rylands does not apply to Statutory Works
The claimant laid a large gas main through an embankment. A large water supply pipe nearby broke, and very substantial volumes of water escaped, causing the embankment to slip, and the gas main to fracture.
Held: The rule in Rylands v Fletcher . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Damages, Utilities

Updated: 29 April 2022; Ref: scu.188045