Office for Nuclear Regulation

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Oldbury system inspection

Executive summary

Purpose of intervention

My intervention was at the Oldbury nuclear licensed site where I undertook a system inspection of the fuel-free verification activities in the fuel pond.  When the Oldbury site is demonstrated to be fuel-free this will signal the start of decommissioning and the preparation of buildings for the decades of care and maintenance before final site clearance. 

Interventions Carried Out by ONR

The safety case for the pond was a reduced version of the case for storing and handling fuel.  I used this information to confirm various aspects of the fuel-free verification process were being done adequately.  The work I saw was concentrating on confirmation that no fuel fragments were on the pond floor or in the storage skips and pond furniture being stored in the pond. In addition, I observed an emergency arrangements training exercise, held discussions with Oldbury’s safety representatives and I received updates on investigations into recent incidents on the site.

Explanation of Judgement if Safety System Not Judged to be Adequate

I judged the safety system being used for the fuel-free verification work in the pond to be adequate.

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 the demonstration that storage locations in the spent fuel pond were fuel-free.  I sampled the paperwork involved to confirm this.  I watched one of the recordings of the inspections and noted the adequacy of the records, which included video of the inspection.  This clearly showed that the equipment was capable of finding fuel fragments to the required standard if they were present on the pond floor.

I witnessed an emergency training exercise using the arrangements due to come in force at the end of March 2016.  This gave me confidence that the new arrangements could adequately deal with an incident on the site.

I discussed with the staff who were inquiring into two recent incidents.  I noted that there appeared to be a theme behind them, that is, jobs designed for two people were undertaken by three people without a formal understanding between the staff and the line manager about who should do what.  This led to errors in following the procedure. Also of concern were workers signing off the completion of tasks without checking they had been completed.

Conclusion of Intervention

I was satisfied that so far as is reasonably practicable Oldbury should be able to demonstrate 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. 

The findings from the recent incidents could provide learning across the Magnox fleet: if a job has been designed for a specific number of people to undertake care must be taken if more or less people are allocated to the job.