Adequacy of Health Physics Infrastructure to Support Timely Decommissioning
- Site: Sellafield
- IR number: 15-003
- Date: April 2015
- LC numbers: N/A
Purpose of intervention
This intervention was undertaken on 14th - 16th April 2015 at Sellafield Limited’s Sellafield nuclear licensed site in Cumbria.
This intervention is associated with the ‘removal of blockers’ strategic improvement theme under Sellafield Programme Operating Plan Objective 1. Intelligence gathered by ONR inspectors has indicated that issues with health physics infrastructure supporting decommissioning work in the Separation Area is creating delays in priority hazard and risk reduction activities. This intervention was undertaken to determine the significance of any potential issues associated with health physics infrastructure and to identify improvements such that hazard and risk reduction activities can be safely accelerated.
Interventions Carried Out by ONR
The intervention focussed on health physics infrastructure supporting decommissioning work within the Separation Area at Sellafield. This infrastructure includes:
- The design and function of controlled area changerooms
- The provision of workwear (‘basics’), Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE), Electronic Personal Dosemeters (EPDs) and radiological instrumentation
- Support from health physics personnel
We visited the B314 and B41 changerooms and several decommissioning facilities including the Pile Fuel Storage Pond (PFSP), the First Generation Magnox Storage Pond (FGMSP), and the Magnox Swarf Storage Silos (MSSS) and held discussions with personnel on their perceived effectiveness of the arrangements. We also discussed the arrangements with the Active Area Services Manager who is responsible for ensuring the effective provision of the facilities, services and equipment associated with this infrastructure.
Explanation of Judgement if Safety System Not Judged to be Adequate
N/A – a system inspection was not undertaken.
Key Findings, Inspector's Opinions and Reasons for Judgements Made
The key findings are detailed below:
- There is significant evidence that the supply of workwear (‘basics’) is not meeting the demand for those accessing the Separation Area. SL demonstrated that it is implementing measures to ensure that there are adequate stocks in changerooms but the present supply is not adequate and it is uncertain as to whether the proposed improvements will fully address the issue. Although this matter may not prevent access to priority plants, it may lead to significant cumulative delays that impact the decommissioning programme.
- There is clear evidence that inadequate provision is being made for visitors who may need to access the Separation Area, leading to personnel being prevented from entering the area. This is a concern because personnel who are affected include design engineers, managers, and contractors who do not regularly visit the Separation Area but who may be undertaking work that is important to hazard and risk reduction.
- It is unclear whether the changeroom infrastructure is sufficiently robust to function effectively as the number of personnel requiring entry to the Separation Area to support decommissioning work increases in the coming years. SL is working to predict and accommodate the throughput of decommissioning workers and this work should be developed as a matter of urgency so that decommissioning programmes are not impacted.
- The plants that were visited during this intervention were broadly satisfied that stocks of PPE, RPE and EPDs would be adequate to facilitate their decommissioning activities provided that their requirements are planned and communicated in advance to site infrastructure. However, there have been ongoing issues with stocks of this equipment and we consider that SL should improve its resilience to potential shortages.
SL should provide a strategy for addressing these shortcomings. It should consider measures such as:
- Ensuring adequate stocks of equipment are available to changerooms.
- Ensuring that visitors who are authorised to enter the Separation Area are not prevented from doing so by the unavailability of lockers.
- Utilising additional, offsite laundry facilities to ensure that workwear is laundered in a timely manner before the upgrades to the SL laundry facilities are implemented.
- Improving its collection of data on the effectiveness of the arrangements in order to inform its infrastructure strategy, rather than solely relying on the Condition Report system which is susceptible to under-reporting.
- Undertaking a resilience review to identify whether the existing infrastructure will remain fit for purpose as decommissioning progresses.
- Undertaking a review to determine whether it would be suitably beneficial and reasonably practicable for one or more dedicated changerooms to be created for priority hazard and risk reduction activities
Conclusion of Intervention
It is my opinion that the current arrangements are generating unnecessary delays which may impact SL’s ability to safely accelerate hazard and risk reduction of priority decommissioning plants. Consequently I have rated this intervention as 4 (below standard) and have raised an ONR Issue on this matter.