Office for Nuclear Regulation

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Fire safety inspection at Springfields Nuclear Fuels Ltd

Executive summary

Purpose of intervention

I conducted an inspection of fire safety at Springfields Nuclear Fuels Ltd. The inspection focused on the themes of fire safety management and practical fire safety provision. A key aspect of the inspection was to assess the progress made against a number of issues identified at last years' inspection and the subsequent follow up inspection. I completed a tour (sample areas) of the selected facilities before concluding with a final meeting with principal management. The inspection identified a number of areas of industry good practice along with a number of areas for the licensee to address; these are reported in items 2.1 - 2.9 below.

Generally the fire safety arrangements were adequate.

Purpose of Intervention

The purpose of the planned inspection was to ensure that the Licensee was showing compliance with the requirements of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The inspection focused on both the management of fire safety and the practical fire safety provision within the areas of building A***. I conducted a meeting to assess the approach being taken to the management of fire safety, testing and maintenance of the fire safety systems across the site and the progress of the project to upgrade the automatic fire detection system in building A***. The legislation relating to this inspection focuses on life fire safety not nuclear fire safety issues. I notified the Fire Safety Manager (FSM) of the themes and areas I intended to inspect and requested him to provide pre-audit material to assist in the process; the material was provided to me in a timely fashion.

Interventions Carried Out by ONR

The site gave access throughout the day to senior managers and subject area experts. Accompanying me throughout the inspection was the Fire Safety Manager (FSM) and the Chief Fire Officer (CFO). These persons were able to provide answers to questions and provide evidence of the sites' fire safety arrangements.

During my inspection, I challenged those accompanying me, and others about procedures and approaches to the practical application of maintaining adequate fire safety provision. In particular detailed conversations were held regarding the on-going automatic fire detection (AFD) upgrade within A***. I questioned personnel to test effectiveness and knowledge of arrangements. I examined a series of documents prior to my arrival on site. Part of the day included discussions and a presentation identifying the application of the recently introduced Fire Action Database (FAD). This was followed by a walk through a selection of the areas of the building mentioned in 1.1 above. I paid particular attention to the practical application of the fire safety strategy. I took the opportunity throughout the walk down to point out examples of obstacles and fire safety issues that are likely to compromise the application of the fire safety strategy for the relevant building.

I was provided with a clear indication from all of those persons I met that a positive culture of openness exists, and a willingness to learn and improve is present within the safety environment.

Explanation of Judgement if Safety System Not Judged to be Adequate

Not Applicable

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

Key Findings

My overall impression was one of a management team which adequately demonstrated a desire to ensure that fire safety is taken seriously and is given the due consideration it deserves.

During both the walk down and the meetings held during the day I did identify a number of minor shortfalls with the application of the expected fire safety strategy. I also identified a number of examples of industry good practice. I was particularly impressed with the recently developed and introduced Fire Action Database (FAD) which has contributed significantly to the management of fire safety issues across the entire site.

Inspectors Opinions

I am of the opinion that the Springfield's Nuclear Fuels Ltd displayed a positive appreciation of the importance of effective fire safety measures within the facilities inspected and that they demonstrate a positive approach to achieving compliance with the relevant legislation.

Reasons for judgements made

The inspection involved a combination of looking into the management of fire safety, reviewing the content of the building FRA and physically walking through selected areas of A*** and speaking with staff. I questioned and challenged observations with the Springfield's FSM, the Plant Manager and others that I met during the course of the day.

Although the inspection identified a small number of areas for improvement and consideration by the site management, the overarching impression was one of a suitable direction of travel being implemented and a high level of importance being placed on the provision of the required standards for conventional fire safety arrangements.   

Conclusion of Intervention

I concluded with an assessment of compliance with the legislation, and presented deficiencies and recognised areas of good practice at a wash-up meeting with members of the Springfield's Management Team.

Overall my findings in relation to the areas I inspected, demonstrated that there is a need to act on the findings of the FRA relating to the management of combustible waste and housekeeping. This is an aspect of fire safety management that has been highlighted previously as being in need of greater controls. This continues to be the case currently.

The development and introduction of the Fire Action Database (FAD) is to be complimented. The FAD is providing greater control and management of the actions identified by the FRA. Close out of these actions in the expected timeframes is now running in the high 90% statistic. I identified a number of areas for improvement / development which have been taken on board by the licensee and will be followed up as part of the post inspection process.