Office for Nuclear Regulation

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Hinkley Point A nuclear licensed site planned system inspections and meetings

Executive summary

Purpose of intervention

The intervention consisted of inspections to assess how Hinkley Point A (HPA) met a subset of the licence conditions attached to the nuclear site licence.

HPA updated me on their progress against their intermediate level waste (ILW) and decommissioning programmes.

I attended the Hinkley A and B Sites' Stakeholder Group meeting.

Interventions Carried Out by ONR

I sampled how the arrangements for the licence conditions on: accumulation of ILW; leakage and escape of radioactive waste; decommissioning and organisational capability were applied to nuclear safety activities on the site. My inspection was in part a joint inspection with the Environment Agency Regulator.

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

A programme of asbestos stripping was commenced by site some years ago, but stalled due to relocation of the funding required to complete the work by Magnox Ltd.  This has left site in a vulnerable position for some years.

Efforts to remedy (i) have recently been reinvigorated, since which, progress at HPA has been made in a number of areas of asbestos management, including reviewing action plans, setting to work and the verification of data inputting and migration into the (relatively new) Elocate system.

Notwithstanding (ii) Magnox and ONR both agreed that whilst the use of Elocate afforded asbestos management-benefits; fluent use of it as a reliable system is still some way off.

Acknowledgement was made by site of the need to implement more robust decision-making when a) implementing control measures (e.g. protection/enclosure of ACMs to a good standard); b) managing those control measures (dealing with ACMs rather than relying mid-long term on interim arrangements) and c) balancing the risks from nuclear safety against those from asbestos.

Competent site based resource (with corporate support) is developing and embedding well for proactive asbestos management, following a number of staff (role) changes. Site is fully aware of the required, sustained long term focus in this area.

There was recognition by site that, despite a lot of effort having being undertaken to improve site-specific arrangements for managing ACMs, there was still “some way to go”.  The Site Closure Director commented on how helpful the inspection had been in helping him re-calibrate where site is on its management of ACMs and how far short they are from where they want to be.

Explanation of Judgement if Safety System Not Judged to be Adequate

I did not undertake an inspection of a safety system during this visit to the site.

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

I noted that the main nuclear safety activities on the site centred on making ILW passively safe. I was shown a comprehensive data base of all the ILW that was on the site. A large part of this ILW was associated with the reactors, which will not be addressed until final site clearance

I was satisfied that the prevention of leakage and escape of radioactive waste was being considered in the ILW and decommissioning programmes as an integral part their development. This was important because in many instances the barriers preventing leakage and escape had to be opened in order to undertake the passivation work.

I recognised that there was an appropriate reason why HPA did not plan to minimise the total quantity of radioactive waste accumulated on the site. The volume of waste generated by using concrete boxes will be greater than that generated if only ductile cast iron containers (DCICs) were used: but Magnox Ltd believes there will be considerable cost savings if concrete boxes are used at HPA. The use of concrete boxes will make it more difficult in the future to work on the ILW as it will be surrounded and thereby fixed in position by grout inside the box. The foreclosure of future waste management options will not be an issue provided the need for future processing of the waste is eliminated. HPA and Magnox Ltd in general plan to achieve this in the following ways:

HPA provided the Environment Agency Regulator and me with an update on the ILW and decommissioning activities being undertaken on the site. We noted the right mix of expertise and use of experience gained undertaking waste management and decommissioning at HPA and other Magnox Ltd sites was being applied at HPA.

Conclusion of Inspection

ONR reportedosed that a Level 3 regulatory issue is created for asbestos management at the Hinkley A site, subject to ONR’s internal governance procedures.