Office for Nuclear Regulation

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AWE Burghfield - Site Lifting and Vacuum Inspection

Executive summary

Purpose of Intervention

This intervention at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) Burghfield licensed site was undertaken as part of the 2017/2018 intervention plan and weapons sub-division strategy.

Interventions Carried Out by ONR

Accompanied by an Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) inspector and a member of the licensee's own Internal Regulation (IR) team - referred to as 'we' in this report - a planned System Based Inspection (SBI) on the lifting and vacuum systems was conducted in the Assembly Facility at AWE Burghfield. Through examination of this system we performed compliance inspections against a number of Licence Conditions (LC). The intervention was conducted via meetings with key plant personnel, a visit to the relevant parts of the assembly facilities and by sampling of relevant plant documentation and records.

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

Not applicable.

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

The key findings against each LC are recorded below:

LC 10 (Training) - Green

We confirmed for a team undertaking lifting and vacuum operations relevant to the safety features selected as part of our sampling adequate training records aligned to the activities being undertaken. Similarly, from a sample of maintenance tasks we confirmed a number of maintainers had suitable training records in place. We were unable to witness operational and maintenance tasks being performed as part of the Inspection. However, overall we were content that the licensee has adequate training arrangements in place.

LC 23 (Operating Rules) - Green

The licensee has adequate Operating Rules (ORs) and lower tier Key Safety Assumptions (KSAs) in place for lifting and vacuum systems with a new OR introduced to recognise the significance of a Period Safety Review 2 (PRS2) improvement which was in the process of being implemented. We confirmed Operating Instructions were in place to ensure compliance with these ORs.

LC 24 (Operating Instructions) - Green

From our sampling we were content that the licensee has adequate operating instructions in place for the lifting and vacuum systems and is compliant with these operating instructions.

LC 27 (Safety Mechanisms, Devices and Circuits) - Green

We were content that the required Safety Mechanisms Devices and Circuits (SMDC) had been adequately identified by the licensee's safety case and were able to see a clear line of sight from fault sequences through to the engineering schedule and plant maintenance scheduled SMDC important to safety, recognising the PRS2 implementation arrangements were ongoing. We inspected the supporting maintenance associated with a number of SMDC under LC 28 and found adequate evidence that these are being suitably maintained.

LC 28 (Examination, Inspection, Maintenance and Testing) - Green

We were satisfied from the records we sampled and the personnel we engaged with that the licensee has adequate maintenance arrangements in place for lifting and vacuum systems and is conducting its maintenance in accordance with AWE arrangements. We also considered a recent Hoist Assembly Rail System (Hoist ARS) event and drew to the licensee's attention that their response in maintaining and return the unit to service was undertaken to the detriment of being able to establish the event root cause.

LC 34 (Leakage and Escape of Radioactive Material and Radioactive Waste) - Not Rated

This LC was not considered as part of this SBI.

Conclusion of Intervention

From the totality of the evidence we sampled, our inspection of lifting and vacuum systems on the plant and from our discussions with key licensee personnel, we are satisfied that the lifting and vacuum systems SBI merits an overall marking of Green. A number of pieces of advice for improvement were provided to the licensee but none of these were significant enough to require additional regulatory action or a regulatory Issue.