Office for Nuclear Regulation

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Imperial College Reactor Centre (ICRC), Silwood Park, Ascot - Part 1 Defuelling preparations progress update Part 2 Follow-up tabletop emergency exercise

Executive summary

Purpose of intervention

ONR attended Imperial College Reactor Centre (ICRC) for a defuelling progress preparation update, and a follow-up tabletop emergency exercise on 15 April 2014. The follow-up tabletop exercise had been proposed to demonstrate whether shortcomings exhibited in a demonstration exercise held on 19 March 2014 had been overcome.

Interventions Carried Out by ONR

Some significant progress towards defuelling preparations was evident in that the major power supply problem now appeared close to being fully resolved. Sporadic progress was being made towards resolving several other outstanding issues, including Sellafield receipt arrangements, security planning and transportation and policing contracts. Staff training and non-active commissioning was due to commence imminently, and some contingency time remained within ICRC's programme.

ICRC had developed a pessimistic scenario for the exercise designed to test liaison, communication and interface with the emergency services to rescue the casualty, focusing in particular on decision making on level of PPE/RPE required for the rescue. I observed good focus, action setting and tracking, and ICRC followed a good process. Liaison, communications and flow of information to the emergency services (fire & ambulance) appeared effective, and decision making on PPE was good. The exercise team inspected the flaskway. The emergency services concluded that casualty evacuation from the flaskway was readily achievable, and should not pose insurmountable difficulties.

Explanation of Judgement if Safety System Not Judged to be Adequate

Not applicable.

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

In my view, ICRC has made some progress in its preparations for defuelling, and I underlined the need for further significant progress to be made to perform well at ONR's readiness inspection scheduled for 14-16 May 2014.

I observed a slick and straightforward response to the follow-up tabletop exercise demonstrating the required improvements to counter the difficulties encountered in the previous exercise on 19 March 2014. On that basis, I judged that the licensee's arrangements were now adequate for the purposes of Licence Condition 11.

Conclusion of Intervention

ICRC intended to continue its preparations for the readiness inspection, and agreed to provide ONR with a further progress update by teleconference on 23 April 2014.