Office for Nuclear Regulation

This website uses non-intrusive cookies to improve your user experience. You can visit our cookie privacy page for more information.

LC12 and 26 Inspection at THORP

Executive summary

Purpose of intervention

In accordance with the Office for Nuclear Regulation’s (ONR’s) Sellafield Strategy, each year ONR performs a series of planned compliance inspections of core licence conditions targeting those facilities with the potential to give rise to off-site effects to the public.

This planned, core licence condition inspection was carried out to assess Sellafield Ltd.’s (SL’s) compliance with Licence Condition (LC) 12 – Duly authorised and other suitably qualified and experienced persons and Licence Condition (LC) 26 – Control and Supervision of Operations in the Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant (THORP) at Sellafield.  

LC12 requires the licensee to “…make and implement adequate arrangements to ensure that only suitably qualified and experienced person perform any duties which may affect the safety of operations on the site…”.

LC26 requires the licensee to ”…ensure that no operations are carried out which may affect safety except under the control and supervision of suitably qualified and experienced persons appointed for that purpose by the licensee”.

Interventions Carried Out by ONR

The ONR inspection team, which comprised the THORP site inspector and an ONR Human Factors specialist inspector, carried out a 1 day licence compliance inspection against licence conditions 12 and 26 utilising the following ONR inspection guidance:

In addition, the THORP site inspector carried out a number of information sharing sessions with senior members of the THORP management team. These are not covered further in this Executive Summary.

Explanation of Judgement if Safety System Not Judged to be Adequate

N/A as this was not a safety systems inspection.

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

ONR’s inspection determined that THORP was able to demonstrate that suitable control and supervision arrangements are implemented appropriately to ensure adequate control and supervision of operations which may affect safety. In addition, ONR noted that THORP are proactively engaging with the process owner to help drive improvements in control and supervision at a site level. It was my opinion from discussions with a sample of THORP staff that they demonstrated a good understanding of their responsibilities for control and supervision and were also able to articulate clearly those situations when they would consider enhanced supervision to be appropriate. It was also my opinion that THORP management adequately explained its arrangements, role and expectations for the control and supervision of contractors working on the facility.

I noted that THORP is undertaking a review of its control and supervision arrangements in accordance with the recently revised Sellafield Ltd control and supervision manual. I reinforced my expectations that given the wider conduct of operations issues within THORP, they ensure that any effort expended is proportionate to the improvement in safety secured it was my opinion that THORP was unable to clearly articulate the safety benefits they anticipated would be secured from this effort other than an increased clarity of DAP responsibilities.

I noted that the roll-out of a new personnel record management system had incurred problems and that THORP has had to implement interim arrangements to ensure compliance with LC12and that whilst these arrangements adequately addressed the expectations of the Licence Condition this had led to an increased workload in this area at THORP.

Conclusion of Intervention

On the basis of the evidence gathered during the inspection, I judge that an IIS rating of 3 (adequate) to be appropriate for both LC 12; Duly authorised and other suitably qualified persons and LC 26; Control and supervision of operations. I do, however, note that the corporate issues with the roll-out of a new personnel management software tool is resulting in the THORP training department having to expend significant additional effort to ensure compliance and make training status information available to line managers.