Office for Nuclear Regulation

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Oldbury nuclear licensed site final defueling activities and fuel free verification inspections

Executive summary

Purpose of intervention

The intervention was held at the Oldbury nuclear licensed site to witness the last fuel flask leaving the site and to provide an update on progress with the fuel-free verification programme.  The declaration of the Oldbury site being fuel-free will signal the start of preparation of buildings for the decades of care and maintenance before final site clearance, which is part of Decommissioning, Fuel and Waste Programme’s regulatory strategy for Magnox Ltd’s licensed sites.

Interventions Carried Out by ONR

The inspection of progress with fuel-free verification concentrated on confirmation that no fuel fragments were stored in radioactive waste storage locations between the reactors and the spent fuel ponds and in the ponds themselves. The fuel-free verification required modifications to existing plant.

Explanation of Judgement if Safety System Not Judged to be Adequate

No safety systems were inspected during this intervention.

Key Findings, Inspector's Opinions and Reasons for Judgements Made

I found that Oldbury had prepared quality plans and safety cases as appropriate to control the modifications to existing plant when undertaking work to demonstrate storage locations between the reactors and the spent fuel pond were fuel-free.  I sampled the paperwork involved to confirm this.  I watched one of the recordings of the inspections undertaken.  This clearly showed that there was no fuel present in the storage tube being examined.

I was content that Oldbury had adequately confirmed that all known fuel in the pond had been loaded into transport flasks and transported off the site once the last flask had left. I again sampled the records of the fuel movements to confirm this.

Oldbury told me their progress with fuel-free verification of the spent fuel pond.  I will inspect this in more detail next time I am on site.

Conclusion of Intervention

I was satisfied that so far as is reasonably practicable Oldbury had removed all known spent fuel stored on the site.  I will undertake further inspections to confirm there is no unexpected fuel remaining in the spent fuel pond.

Oldbury had noted where fuel had been found in other Magnox sites and were actively ensuring their inspections would address these areas adequately.  As a result some unexpected bits of fuel rod assembly had been located (but no fuel fragments so far) in the pond.  This willingness to learn and use experience to improve inspections lead me to rate this inspection as showing a good standard.