Office for Nuclear Regulation

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AWE Aldermaston - LC 22 inspection in the Waste, Decommissioning and Transport Group

Executive summary

Purpose of Intervention

This intervention, conducted at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) Aldermaston licensed site, was undertaken as part of the 2019/20 intervention plan and weapons sub-division strategy.

Interventions Carried Out by ONR

During the Office for Nuclear Regulation’s (ONR) July 2019 site inspection week, I conducted a planned Licence Condition (LC) 22 (“Modification or experiment on existing plant”) compliance inspection of the licensee’s arrangements, including their adequate implementation.

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

The inspection was conducted in AWE’s Waste, Decommissioning and Transport Group and as part of the inspection, I met with the licensee’s personnel and sampled modifications (known as Asset Change arrangements) raised in the past 12 months. I was supported throughout the inspection by ONR specialist inspectors from Nuclear Liabilities and Mechanical Engineering.

Explanation of Judgement if Safety System Not Judged to be Adequate

This was not a systems inspection

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

This LC22 inspection examined AWE’s Asset Change (AC) governance arrangements, including the routine reporting of performance through the Asset Change Board, and considered the adequate implementation of AWE’s arrangements through a review of modifications either complete or in progress. It identified that from the AC arrangements examined, the Waste, Decommissioning and Transport (WD&T) Group on the AWE Aldermaston site had adequate arrangements in place for their AC process.

The AC associated with the transfer of the Beryllium facility to the WD&T Group was examined and found to be adequately managed. I noted the Nuclear Safety Committee’s positive influence when assessing the AC to ensure a hold point was established requiring the appointment of a facility lead prior to the transfer, to mitigate any potential capability impact on the wider WD&T Group.

On examination of the implementation of the AC arrangements on a modification to install Air Handling Units into the Higher Activity Waste stores, a shortfall in the risk assessment was identified that requires resolution. The facility Asset Operations Manager (AOM) has taken prompt action to address the shortfall taking the conservative decision to stop the impacted activity until remedial measures have been implemented.

Conclusion of Intervention

Overall, from the areas sampled, I am satisfied to rate the LC22 inspection as adequate (green). I will raise one Level 4 Issue requiring improvement to the risk assessment and mitigation measures for the existing modification to install Air Handling Units into the Higher Activity Waste stores.