Office for Nuclear Regulation

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Planned (unannounced) inspection, against Licence Condition 26 at AWE Aldermaston

Executive summary

Purpose of intervention

The purpose of this intervention was to carry out a planned (unannounced) inspection, against Licence Condition - LC26 (“Control and Supervision of Operations”) in a facility providing a suite of active (wet chemical) laboratories at AWE Aldermaston, in accordance with the planned inspection programme contained in the AWE Integrated Intervention Strategy (IIS) and associated Intervention Plans.

In addition, I also participated in a planned plant walk-down in the legacy production facility with the AWE Site Director and the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR’s) Head of the ONR Weapons Sub-Programme and I attended a Regulatory Conference.

Interventions Carried Out by ONR

The details of the plant walk-down of the legacy production facility and the Regulatory Conference are reported in the main body of this report.  No matters of regulatory concern, requiring additional regulatory attention, were identified from these activities.

In addition I conducted an unannounced LC 26 compliance inspection of the implementation of the licensee’s arrangements, made under LC 26, in the context of operations within a suite of active (wet chemistry) laboratories.  

The intervention was performed in line with ONR's guidance requirements (as described in our technical inspection guides) in the areas inspected.

Explanation of Judgement if Safety System Not Judged to be Adequate


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

The plant walk-down in the legacy production facility provided an opportunity for useful discussions with the licensee’s senior management (i.e. the Site Director), with respect to some of ONR’s concerns emerging from its assessment of the licensee’s Periodic Review of Safety (PRS2) for the legacy facility.  These discussions were without prejudice, since ONR’s assessment of PRS2 is ongoing.  No matters requiring regulatory action were identified during our discussions.

In addition, I together with a number of ONR inspectors, attended a Regulatory Conference hosted by AWE senior staff (along with representatives from the Ministry of Defence MoD, the Defence Nuclear Safety Regulator, DNSR and the Environment Agency, EA).  The meeting provided for a useful exchange of information and will assist in ONR’s ongoing focus on building effective working relationships with AWE, MoD, DNSR and EA.

Prior to the conduct of the unannounced LC 26 inspection, I sampled the licensee’s arrangements against this Licence Condition, which in my judgement were adequate and in accordance with ONR’s expectations.  The unannounced LC 26 inspection was received in a professional manner by the licensee and robust evidence was provided in answer to the questions put to the licensee during the inspection.  From the totality of the information sampled during this inspection, it is my opinion that the licensee provided an adequate demonstration that it is adequately complying with its LC 26 arrangements in the context of its operations within the active laboratory complex.

Conclusion of Intervention

The plant walk-down conducted in the legacy production facility with the licensee’s senior management and the Regulatory Conference both provided vehicles for an effective exchange of information between ONR and the licensee.

From the sample taken during my inspection, the licensee provided an adequate demonstration of the implementation of its LC 26 arrangements in the context of its operations within the active (wet chemical) laboratories complex.  No matters were identified requiring additional action by the licensee.