Office for Nuclear Regulation

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AWE Aldermaston - LC35 Inspection

Executive summary

Purpose of Intervention

This intervention, conducted at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) Aldermaston licensed site, was undertaken as part of the 2018/19 intervention plan and weapons sub-division strategy.

Interventions Carried Out by ONR

The intervention was performed in line with ONR's guidance requirements (as described in our technical inspection guides) in the areas inspected.

A planned inspection was undertaken covering compliance with Licence Condition (LC) 35 (Decommissioning) on the AWE Aldermaston site.  We met with the licensee’s personnel to inform our view.

Explanation of Judgement if Safety System Not Judged to be Adequate

This was not a systems based inspection.

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

We met with the licensee’s personnel and sampled their arrangements for Licence Condition 35.  These require a number of documents to be produced and these are summarised in an Annual Review of Nuclear Liabilities (ARNL).  We noted that some of the outline decommissioning plans were not up to date.  This means that they may not capture any modifications made to the facilities and may not reflect the latest decommissioning and waste disposal options.  The detailed decommissioning plans that we sampled (covering facilities that are currently undergoing decommissioning) were up to date.

We noted that positive, tangible progress with decommissioning has been made since the last inspection by moving redundant glove boxes into secondary containment.  On balance we did not consider the out of date documents sufficient to rate the inspection below green.  They do need addressing though and we will raise a Regulatory Issue to ensure we maintain oversight of progress.

Conclusion of Intervention

At the conclusion of the inspection we were generally content with the arrangements we sampled, but identified that there is no mechanism to ensure the outline decommissioning plans are kept up to date.  The ONR inspection rating guide indicates that inspections should be rated green even if there are minor shortfalls and that an issue can be raised.  We agreed to raise a Level 4 Issue for AWE to consider how to ensure the outline decommissioning plans are kept up to date and rated the inspection as green.