This intervention, conducted at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) Aldermaston licensed site was undertaken as part of the 2017/18 intervention plan and weapons sub-division strategy.
During the Office for Nuclear Regulation's (ONR) November 2017 site inspection week I attended routine briefing meetings with key licensee (i.e. AWE plc) personnel, to discuss the licensee's progress with important safety related projects within the two AWE inspection portfolios for which I am the ONR site inspector.
Additionally, supported by the incoming ONR Burghfield site inspector, I conducted a Licence Condition (LC) 22 ("Modification or Experiment on Existing Plant") compliance inspection of the implementation of the licensee's arrangements (made under LC 22). This inspection was conducted at a Corporate Level to allow ONR to take an informed view as to the licensee's compliance with its LC 22 arrangements across the licensee's business.
The intervention was performed in line with ONR’s guidance requirements (as described in our technical inspection guides) in the areas inspected.
During my routine meetings with the licensee, I identified no matters requiring immediate regulatory attention
In the case of the LC 22 inspection, we inspected the licensee's arrangements (made under LC 22) and judged that these arrangements adequately met ONR's expectations.
We noted and communicated our view that the licensee had prepared well for the inspection and that, during the inspection, they were open and honest about the strengths and weakness in their delivery of the related arrangements, and what they were doing to improve their performance. Such an approach improves outcomes, both for the licensee and for the regulator, and is to be commended.
Overall, we observed evidence that, in the majority of instances, the licensee was compliant with their arrangements. Where there were shortfalls, the licensee agreed with our findings, and recognised that improvements should be considered.
During the inspection, it was clear that the corporate team has worked hard to improve consistency and quality in the application of the change process, and of both the Asset Change Board - ACB construct and the Asset Change Manager - ACM role in particular. We noted that a number of initiatives continue (e.g. developing a community of practice, revised training for Asset Operation Managers - AOM and ACM roles etc.) and, as such, we recognise that the licensee continues on its journey of improvement against this facet of operations.
We noted that there were occasions in the past, on which potential modifications had not been taken through the site-wide process. In our opinion, the site process is delivered adequately and hence the licensee should concentrate on ensuring that all relevant modifications continue to use the process.
The inspection demonstrated that the licensee is adequately implementing its LC 22 arrangements but highlighted that it may be helpful for AWE to construct a list of software across the site with the potential to impact nuclear safety. In our opinion this would be a helpful tool to pre-warn ACBs that proposals for modification, to any software on the list, may merit an extra level of ACB scrutiny.
No matters were identified as requiring immediate regulatory attention during either the routine meetings with key licensee personnel, or during the conduct of the LC 22 (Corporate Level) compliance inspection. The LC 22 compliance inspection demonstrated that the licensee has adequate arrangements in place under LC 22 and is actively engaged in tightening and enhancing these arrangements with a clear vision for the future being presented to ONR.