Office for Nuclear Regulation

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Compliance Inspection of LCs 7, 26 and 32 at Sellafield

Executive summary

Purpose of intervention

Title: Compliance Inspection of Licence Conditions 7, 26 and 32 at the Highly Active Liquor Evaporation and Storage (HALES)  Operating Unit (OU) and follow up enquiries following a recent event within the Waste Vitrification Plant (WVP) on Sellafield Ltd.’s nuclear licenced site at Sellafield, Cumbria.

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) undertakes all regulatory interaction with the Sellafield site licensee (Sellafield Limited (SL)) against a strategy defined by the Sellafield, Decommissioning, Fuel and Waste (SDFW) Programme.  In accordance with that Strategy, a Licence Condition compliance inspection of the Highly Active Liquor Evaporation and Storage (HALES) Operating Unit (OU) was carried out as identified within the planned inspection schedule for Operational Waste Facilities.

The purpose of this intervention is for ONR to determine if the HALES OU is adequately implementing SL’s site-wide arrangements for compliance with Licence Conditions (LC) 7 (Incidents on the site), LC 26 (Control and supervision of operations) and LC 32 (Accumulation of radioactive waste).

In addition I also undertook follow up enquiries against a recent event within the Waste Vitrification Plant (WVP).   

Interventions Carried Out by ONR

LC 7 requires SL to ensure that incidents on the site are notified, recorded, investigated and reported.

LC 26 requires SL 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 SL.

LC 32 requires SL to make and implement adequate arrangements for minimising, so far as is reasonably practicable, the rate of production and total quantity of radioactive waste accumulated on the site at any time and for recording the waste so accumulated.

I carried out a two-day, on-site, licence condition compliance inspection of the HALES OU.  The main focus of the inspection centred on operations and activities associated with the HALES facility.

The inspection comprised discussions with SL staff, observation of operational plant meetings, a plant walk down, and examination of a sample of plant operational records.  The inspections were carried out in accordance with the following formal ONR inspection and assessment guidance:

I also carried out follow up enquiries associated with a temporary loss of power event that occurred within the Waste Vitrification Plant on the 5 January 2017.  These follow up enquiries were conducted in accordance with ONR investigation guidance ONR-ENF-GD-005 Rev 0, June 2016.

Explanation of Judgement if Safety System Not Judged to be Adequate

N/A.  This was not a System Based Inspection (SBI).

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

From the evidence sampled during this inspection, I consider that SL has effectively implemented its arrangements for compliance with LC 7, and that an inspection rating of Green (No formal action) is merited. I have generated one minor Regulatory Issue associated with SL’s own investigation process, where none of the sampled investigations were found to have been completed within the 28 day timescale as described within its arrangements.

From the evidence sampled during this inspection, I consider that SL has effectively implemented its arrangements for compliance with LC 26.  Additionally, there was evidence of good practice demonstrated with the utilisation of a framework of daily group operational meetings that were designed to ensure frontline operational and nuclear safety issues are communicated efficiently and effectively to operational staff and management.  I consider that an inspection rating of Green (No formal action) is merited here.

From the evidence sampled during this inspection, I consider that SL has effectively implemented its arrangements for compliance with LC 32.  Additionally, there was evidence of good practice demonstrated to educate and refresh operational staff on available waste routes through the use of posters and waste team attendance at work planning meetings.  I consider that an inspection rating of Green (No formal action) is merited here.

I undertook follow up enquiries into the recent temporary loss of power event within the Waste Vitrification Plant, to determine if the event merited formal investigation.  Following a detailed meeting with SL I concluded that there was no significant breach of LCs or relevant statutory provisions and that SL has responded adequately to the event.  I also judged that the event does not meet the criteria for formal investigation by ONR.  SL’s internal investigation has commenced and I will monitor associated corrective actions through routine regulatory engagement.

Conclusion of Intervention

My findings were shared with, and accepted by SL, as part of routine inspection feedback.  In order to provide regulatory oversight of SL’s progress against the shortfall identified I have raised one Regulatory Issue as a result of this inspection as described below:

SL to review its investigation process to determine and implement improvements for the timely delivery of SL internal ‘management investigations’.