Office for Nuclear Regulation

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Two related questions regarding "Fracking" near licensed sites

Information released

Q1 -What arrangements does ONR have in place to assess potential risks posed to nuclear licensed sites as a result of subsidence or other effects of the hydraulic fracturing 'fracking' processes involved in the exploration and development of oil and gas resources in shale rock formations?

The primary responsibility for nuclear safety, and hence assessment of the potential risks to nuclear licensed sites from all hazards, rests with the license holder.  Under the licence conditions attached to the nuclear site license, licensees are required to consider the effect of nearby industrial facilities (including hydraulic fracturing for shale oil or gas) and demonstrate that any associated risks to the nuclear facility are included within the nuclear facility risk assessment (safety case).  ONR has a range of tools at its disposal to secure compliance with the licence conditions, and ONR may, if appropriate, carry out technical assessment of the licensee's safety submission covering the risks posed by any nearby facility for hydraulic fracturing.

Q2 - What action will ONR be able to undertake to prevent fracking in the vicinity of a nuclear licensed site if risks posed to the site are deemed to be unacceptable?

ONR considers in general that the risks to nuclear facilities associated with fracking are low - see Ref 1.  Nevertheless ONR would expect the licence holder to engage with the developer to gain an understanding of the proposed works or development and assess the potential impact on the safety of the licensed facility.  In the event that the risks were considered to be unacceptable, ONR may object to such development as part of the planning consultation process.

Reference 1 - Fracking and Nuclear Sites - Earthquakes

Exemptions applied

None.

PIT (Public Interest Test) if applicable

N/A.