My intervention at Hinkley Point A (HPA) was to undertake planned inspections of their compliance with organisational capability, accumulation of radioactive waste on the site, the disposal of radioactive waste from the site, the prevention of leakage and escape of radioactive waste and a follow-up inspection on how emergency contingency arrangements training was going. I undertook the radioactive waste inspections with the Environment Agency HPA nuclear regulator.
These activities were part of ONR’s Decommissioning, Fuel and Waste intervention programme for HPA.
In my interventions I used ONR guidance on the relevant licence condition being considered as part of my judgement of how well HPA was meeting the condition.
HPA also gave me updates on current and future nuclear safety work on the site.
This intervention did not include the inspection of a safety system.
HPA, in common with other Magnox nuclear licensed sites, is undergoing major changes to its decommissioning organisation. An ONR expert in the management of change assisted me with inspecting how HPA are managing the process. We found that the change was following Magnox Ltd procedures and in addition taking into account the needs of the site and its future work load.
My inspection showed HPA was adequately meeting the licence conditions relevant to waste management in the work areas I looked into on the site. Additional work would be required before some of the new work envisaged could be undertaken in a way that ensured licence conditions continued to be complied with. I found some areas of good practice and some areas where improvements could be made.
The HPA elution trials gave the prospect of benefits to radioactive waste management at Magnox nuclear licensed sites with redundant fuel cooling ponds. Elution uses water chemistry to extract radioactivity from the paint on the walls and potentially pond furniture. The trials showed a measurable reduction in contact radiation dose rates. This could potentially provide both decommissioning cost savings and reduce radiation doses to workers, reduce the quantity of intermediate level waste to be stored at nuclear licensed sites and reduce the risks to workers decommissioning the facilities. However, Magnox Ltd would have to undertake further work on the process before the trials could be used on full sized ponds.
HPA was addressing the work necessary to bring the site into a care and maintenance state. It appears that this work will need to start soon if the deadlines on the decommissioning programme for the site are to be met.
In the areas inspected, HPA demonstrated that the site was compliant with licence conditions addressing accumulation of radioactive waste on the site, the disposal of radioactive waste from the site, the prevention of leakage and escape of radioactive matter and the emergency contingency arrangements training appeared to be successful.