Office for Nuclear Regulation

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HM Nuclear Installations Inspectorate

Relicensing the Atomic Weapons Establishment Sites to AWE plc



AEA Technology plc
As Low as Reasonably Practicable - the ALARP principle is a fundamental to the regulation of health and safety in the UK and requires that risks should be weighed against the costs of reducing them; measures must then be taken to reduce or eliminate the risks unless the cost of doing so is obviously unreasonable compared with the risk.
AWEML is a consortium comprised of British Nuclear Fuels plc (BNFL), Lockheed Martin and SERCO. It holds the Management and Operations Contract for the AWE sites, and owns all the shares in AWE plc apart from one special share held by the Secretary of State for Defence. AWEML has recruited and supplied a management team to AWE plc, the operator of the AWE sites.
AWE plc
AWE plc is a company created by MoD; it employ the managers and workforce on the AWE sites and is the repository of AWE's scientific and production expertise. AWE plc is the user of the sites and is in day to day control of operations.
Chemical and Hazardous Industries Directorate of HSE, which also deals with explosives
Defence Evaluation and Research Agency
Department of Industry.
Environment Agency
Field Operations Directorate of HSE, which regulates 'conventional' health and safety matters across a range of industries
Government owned, contractor operated
Health and Safety Commission - The Health and Safety Commission and Health and Safety Executive (HSE or 'The Executive') are bodies created by the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act (1974). The Commission is responsible to the Secretary of State for Environment, Transport and the Regions (and to other Secretaries of State) for the administration of the Act. The Commission makes substantial use of independent advisory committees who advise the Commission directly.
Health and Safety Executive - a distinct statutory body with day-to-day responsibility for making arrangements for the enforcement of safety legislation. The Executive is the statutory licensing authority for civil nuclear installations, a function which it delegates to senior officials within the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) which is part of HSE's Nuclear Safety Division (ND).
Health and Safety at Work etc Act 19742.
Intermediate Level Waste
Licence Condition: HSE is able to attach to a licence, at any time, such conditions as appear to it to be necessary or desirable in the interests of safety. It may also include conditions with respect to the handling, treatment and disposal of nuclear matter. HSE also has power to vary or revoke conditions so providing scope for the licence to be tailored to specific circumstances and the phase of the installation's life. A list of the standard licence conditions is in Reference 8. Note that these have been recently amended to make reference to the Radioactive Substances Act 1993 rather than the Radioactive Substances Act 1960.
A Nuclear Site Licence - under the NI Act, no site may be used for the purpose of installing or operating a nuclear reactor (or some other types of nuclear installations), other than a reactor in a means of transport, unless a licence has been granted by HSE (sites operated by the Crown are exempt). The granting of a nuclear site licence imposes an absolute liability upon the licensee as regards injury to persons or damage to property arising from a nuclear occurrence.
Local Liaison Committee.
Ministry of Defence
NI Act
Nuclear Installations Act 1965 (as amended)3.
HM Nuclear Installations Inspectorate - a part of the Nuclear Directorate of HSE - senior officers of which have delegated regulation and enforcement powers relating to nuclear licensing under the NI Act. (See HSE above).
Nuclear Safety Advisory Committee - the Health and Safety Commission's independent adviser on the subject of nuclear safety, formerly known as the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Nuclear Installations (ACSNI).
Nuclear Safety Committee. Licence condition 13 requires that a licensee should set up a senior level committee which should consider and advise on matters which affect the safe design, construction, commissioning, operation and decommissioning of the installations on the licensed site and any other matters relevant to safety. The committee must have members who are adequately qualified to perform this task and to provide a source of authoritative advice to the licensee. The committee, however, is purely advisory and must not be considered to have an executive function, but the Executive must be informed if the advice of the committee is not to be followed by the licensee.
Nuclear Safety Division of HSE, of which NII is part.
Off-site Centre.
HSE's Safety Assessment Principles14 - written as guidance for NII staff to use when carrying out assessment; they are available to licensees and the public.
Safety case
The safety case is a suite of documents providing a written demonstration that risks have been reduced to a level that is as low as reasonably practicable. The safety case is not a one-off series of documents prepared to obtain a nuclear site licence. It is intended to be a living dossier which underpins every safety related decision made by the licensee. The safety case is required to be updated regularly and as plant and organisational changes dictate. Safety cases can apply to whole plants or to modifications and encompass some aspects addressed in management prospectuses.
Safety Management Prospectus
The management prospectus can be regarded as that part of a licensee's safety case which deals with management issues. Licence applicants develop and submit a management prospectus which inter alia demonstrates their commitment to health and safety By this means NII expects to receive a clear statement about a company, its structure and how it proposes to operate.
Special Share
The Secretary of State for Defence retains one special share in AWE plc. This device enables the Secretary of State to inhibit any change to the company (e.g. to the Memorandum and Articles of the company) which might detract from the continued safe and efficient operation of the AWE sites.
The term "use" features in the NI Act in relation to the corporate person licensed under the act. In HSE's published guidance6, 'the user' is interpreted as being the company "which is in day to day control of the site, process and activities and whose staff manage the operation of the plant".