Office for Nuclear Regulation

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Reactive Intervention at Springfields, Inspection of arrangements for the disposal of solid radioactive waste

Executive summary

Purpose of intervention

A reactive intervention was made, on 5 August, to provide regulatory advice, at the request of the licensee, relating to aspects of licence condition 33 arrangements for the potential 'on site' disposal of solid low level radioactive waste together with ONR delicensing requirements. On 6 August, in response to a minor event on the site earlier in 2014, aspects of the implementation of Ionising Radiations Regulations compliance arrangements for the radiological protection of plant operators were inspected. Further regulatory advice on ONR delicensing requirements was also provided. The licensee's measures to enhance the implementation of IRR 99 Local Rules were also discussed.

Interventions Carried Out by ONR

A reactive intervention was made, to inspect aspects of the licensee's implementation of licence condition 33 arrangements for the disposal of radioactive waste. The licensee was again considering a project for the potential 'on site' disposal of solid low level and very low level radioactive waste. Regulatory advice was rehearsed that the licensee may wish to delicence that part of the site for which solid low and very low level radioactive waste disposal was planned. Joint regulatory advice was provided to the licensee, by both ONR and the Environment Agency.

The nominated site inspector and an ONR specialist radiological protection inspector conducted a reactive intervention, providing regulatory advice. This was in response to the licensee's investigation of a Kiln Plant contamination event in February 2014. This event involved an airborne radioactive contamination monitor having been inadvertently switched off, prior to a plant operator working in the area, which should have been monitored. The plant operator inhaled a very small, but measurable, dose of radioactive contamination. The purpose of this intervention was to determine whether the licensee had effectively implemented all of the remedial actions arising from this event. Discussions were held with the plant management, together with a plant inspection. The licensee was found to have implemented a range of improvements from this event and encouragement was provided to the licensee, to complete the range of proposed improvements.

A meeting was arranged by the nominated site inspector for the provision of further regulatory advice, on both solid radioactive waste disposal and the related potential delicensing of part of the site. A specialist inspector with extensive recent experience of a delicensing application at another licensed site provided regulatory advice.

Following a recent observed shortfall in the licensee's provision of "Local Rules", (a requirement of The Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999), a meeting was arranged to ascertain that the licensee was making timely improvements to "Local Rules" across the site.

Explanation of Judgement if Safety System Not Judged to be Adequate

Not applicable on this occasion.

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

In my judgement, I concluded that the licensee was effectively implementing arrangements to maintain the ability to dispose of solid radioactive waste, for the future lifetime of the site. The licensee was very receptive to the regulatory advice provided by the Environment Agency and ONR.

As a result of the reactive inspection into the minor radiation dose uptake event, I concluded that the licensee's implementation of the measures necessary to minimise the radiation exposure of plant operators, through contamination control, warranted some minor improvements in some areas, which will be confirmed in a letter to the licensee. The licensee readily accepted this regulatory advice.

For the further meeting to provide regulatory advice on radioactive waste disposal plans and the related potential delicensing of part of the site, the licensee was again very receptive to the regulatory advice provided by a specialist inspector with extensive recent experience of delicensing another nuclear licensed site.

The meeting arranged to discuss the licensee's implementation of arrangements for the provision of "Local Rules" was very constructive and assurance was obtained that the licensee had an adequate programme to maintain compliance with the requirement for such "Local Rules" across the facilities on the site.

Conclusions of Interventions

On balance, I concluded that the licensee's implementation of arrangements for the disposal of solid low and very low level radioactive wastes were adequate, warranting an inspection rating of "3",.

The licensee's implementation of arrangements for addressing events on the site was assessed as adequate, with an inspection rating of "3". Minor improvements were considered appropriate to some aspects of the licensee's implementation of arrangements to control radiation dose uptake, which will be confirmed in writing to the licensee. An inspection rating of "4" was therefore ascribed to this aspect of the intervention.

The meeting to discuss radiological aspects of radioactive waste disposal and a potential delicensing application from the licensee was constructive, warranting an inspection rating of "3".

The licensee provided effective assurance regarding the timely site wide implementation of updated "Local Rules", which warranted an inspection rating of "3".