Office for Nuclear Regulation

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Intervention to Discuss the remaining lifetime of the Legacy Uranic Residue Processing Facilities

Executive summary

Purpose of intervention

A reactive intervention was made at Springfields in order to enable the Director of the ONR Decommissioning Fuel and Waste programme to discuss the remaining lifetime of the legacy uranic residue processing facilities with the licensee’s Managing Director, including an inspection of the processing facilities. 

Participation in the Emergency Planning Consultative Committee, (EPCC) meeting at Hutton.

Interventions Carried Out by ONR

As a result of emerging funding matters, which could curtail the remaining lifetime of the “unique national asset” legacy uranic residue processing facilities at Springfields, an intervention was arranged to enable the Director of the Decommissioning Fuel & Waste programme (and Defence programme) within ONR, to meet with the licensee’s Managing Director and others, to discuss factors which could affect the remaining lifetime of these valuable uranic residue processing facilities and to see a range of these facilities.

I participated in the EPCC meeting at Hutton, accompanied by an ONR specialist emergency arrangements inspector.

Explanation of Judgement if Safety System Not Judged to be Adequate

Not applicable.

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

The meeting and plant inspection, (with the licensee’s Managing Director), of the legacy uranic residue processing facilities, served to appraise the ONR Director of the Decommissioning Fuel & Waste programme of the scope and performance of these important facilities, which were reducing the nuclear safety hazard at Springfields, as well as at some other licensed sites.  ONR support was communicated to the Managing Director for the licensee’s request to a customer for a potential two year extension of operation of these ageing but valuable facilities, which continued to achieve useful reductions in nuclear and radiological hazards at Springfields, (and at other sites sending their uranic residues to Springfields for processing to more stable, less hazardous forms of uranium , for recycle into fuel or for safer long-term storage, pending potential reuse of the uranium.

The EPCC meeting was the usual open and constructive meeting.  It was encouraging to note that there was effective dialogue between the licensee, the local authority emergency planners, each of the ‘blue lights’ emergency services and a range of other parties with responsibilities relating to Springfields ‘off site’ emergency planning matters.  Regulatory advice was provided by ONR on a number of ‘off site’ emergency planning matters.

Conclusions of Intervention

I concluded that the meeting and plant inspection of the legacy uranic residue processing facilities enabled ONR to effectively communicate to the licensee’s Managing Director the extent of support for the proposed extension of operation, by about a further two years, of the “unique national asset” of the Springfields legacy uranic residue processing facilities, before these ageing facilities reached the end of their operational lifetime.  The licensee demonstrated appropriate priority being given to decommissioning matters.

I concluded that the EPCC meeting facilitated effective dialogue across a broad range of ‘off site’ emergency planning matters., between the licensee, the local authority emergency planners and a broad range of other agencies involved in Springfields ‘off site’ emergency planning matters.  It was encouraging to note the active participation of representatives of each of the ‘blue light’ emergency services at this meeting. The licensee was receptive to the regulatory advice provided by ONR.