A NUCLEAR weapons factory has admitted breaching health and safety regulations after a fire left a Basingstoke man with burn injuries.

Ashley Emery, 29, suffered burns to his left arm and face in the fire at AWE Aldermaston on the evening of August 3, 2010.

The fire, which took place in a building used to mix substances in the manufacture of explosives, took five hours to bring under control and led to the evacuation of nearby villagers.

Today at Reading Crown Court, AWE Aldermaston pleaded guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Bernard Thorogood, prosecuting for the Health and Safety Executive, said the fire exposed "several failures" of health and safety for which management at the firm was culpable.

These included inadequate training and clothing for workers, the tiredness of staff, and poorly maintained training records.

The court heard the building where the fire happened was being used both to store and mix high explosives, which breached the building's own explosives licence.

Mr Thorogood said Mr Emery was mixing substances in a bucket when he was "overwhelmed by a bright orange flash and whooshing sound".

He added that firefighters responding to the fire were not initially aware there were explosives in the building, and they retreated when they found out.

A medical burns pack had to be passed through a gate by paramedics because staff who fled the building could not unlock a gate, the court heard.

No radioactive material was involved in the fire, which the court heard was most likely caused by an electrostatic discharge.

The hearing, which continues, is expected to last for the rest of the day.