Office for Nuclear Regulation

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Planned Intervention at Springfields

Executive summary

Purpose of intervention

A planned intervention was conducted to participate in the quarterly regulatory review meeting between the licensee, the National Nuclear Laboratory Limited tenant organisation and the regulators.  A range of matters of regulatory interest were discussed.  This was followed by a planned intervention to inspect aspects of the implementation of the licensee’s emergency arrangements.

Interventions Carried Out by ONR

I participated in the planned quarterly regulatory review meeting, where there was extensive discussion on the longevity of the licensee’s facilities for processing legacy uranic residues, arising from both Springfields and other licensed sites.  I also conducted a planned inspection of the implementation of aspects of the licensee’s emergency arrangements.

Explanation of Judgement if Safety System Not Judged to be Adequate

As no system inspection was undertaken, this was not applicable to this intervention.

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

The licensee, the National Nuclear Laboratory Limited tenant organisation and the regulators participated in the planned regulatory review meeting.  Also at the quarterly regulatory review meeting, it was clear that the licensee needed to clarify the key arguments in support of continuing legacy uranic residue processing, in the ageing but unique national asset facilities.  The licensee needed to present a robust and timely case to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, in order to obtain funding to complete uranic residue processing, over about a further four years, otherwise operations could shut down by mid 2016.  This could result in the long term site storage of uranic residues.  Acceptable progress was reported on the site decommissioning projects.  A range of other matters of regulatory interest were also discussed, with an acceptable outcome.

Several aspects of the licensee’s implementation of the emergency arrangements were inspected.  This included an inspection of the phased improvements to the Emergency Control Centre, on which ONR had previously provided regulatory advice.  It was encouraging to note the scope and timing of the improvements.  The licensee was also found to be improving the quality of the ‘off site’ emergency planning information, (in cooperation with the local authority), being provided to the public as well as enhancing the REPPIR information and related assessment, which was shortly to be assessed by ONR.

Conclusions of Intervention

On balance, I concluded that the meeting between the licensee, the major tenant and the regulators was acceptable.  Regulatory advice was provided to the licensee in order to support the licensee’s case for extending legacy uranic residue processing beyond around mid 2016.  Overall, an LC 35 inspection rating of 3, adequate, was deemed appropriate.

Given the improvements being made to the emergency arrangements, including tangible improvements to the Emergency Control Centre, an LC 11 rating of 2, good, was warranted.  Acceptable progress was also clearly being made towards improving the quality of the licensee’s REPPIR report, warranting an inspection rating of 3, adequate. This reflected the slight delay in sending the HIRE report to ONR.