Office for Nuclear Regulation

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Amendments to licence conditions attached to nuclear site licences to implement the Nuclear Safety Directive 2009/71/Euratom invitation to comment by 30 June 2011

Dear Nuclear Site Licence Holder,

I am writing to all nuclear site licence holders, to consult you on amendments that we are considering making to the licence conditions attached to nuclear site licences. These amendments (Annex A) are being made to ensure that the Nuclear Safety Directive1 is fully transposed in the United Kingdom. All EU Member States are required to fully implement the provisions of the NSD by 22 July 2011.

In Great Britain, most of the provisions of the NSD are transposed by the current nuclear safety regime, in particular through the Nuclear Installations Act 1965 (NIA65) and the standard set of 36 licence conditions attached to nuclear site licences. However, we have identified some small changes that are needed to two of the standard licence conditions to ensure the NSD is fully implemented. The proposed amendments are the minimum required to meet the obligation to fully implement the Directive. The amendments are detailed in Annex A.

Change to licence condition 17

Article 6(4) of the NSD requires member states to ensure that licensees establish and implement management systems that give due priority to nuclear safety and that the regulator subject these systems to regular verification.

Our view is that licensees already have the necessary management systems in place, although there is no express requirement for them to put these systems in place. New paragraph (1) of licence condition 17 makes this explicit. We believe that the regular verification aspect of Article 6(4) of the NSD is met by the current regulatory framework which enables ONR (as an agency within HSE) to take the necessary steps to ensure that licensees have complied with all licence conditions.

We are also proposing to make an additional change to the terminology used in licence condition 17. The existing references to "quality assurance arrangements" will be replaced with references to "quality management arrangements". This change is not required to implement the NSD: however, we consider it sensible to take this opportunity to update the terminology used in the condition in line with that currently used by industry.  It is our view that this change in terminology does not affect the substance of the existing obligations to make and implement adequate quality assurance arrangements.

Change to licence condition 36

Article 6(5) of the NSD requires member states to ensure that licensees are required to provide and maintain adequate financial and human resources to ensure the licensees can fulfil their obligations in respect of nuclear safety as laid down in paragraphs 1 to 4 of Article 6. The proposed changes to licence condition 36 will therefore explicitly require licensees to provide for and maintain the financial and human resources to ensure nuclear safety.  We are not anticipating that this will lead to a significant change in regulatory behaviour by ONR. In particular, we do not expect ONR inspectors to routinely request detailed financial information. We anticipate that we will look to Government to provide continuing assurances on this matter after initial assurance before granting a nuclear site licence.

Your views

The draft supplementary guide at Annex B provides further explanation of the practical implications and approach we envisage for licensees, and the ONR, as a result of these amendments. In addition, an impact assessment setting out the associated costs and benefits of the approach, has also been published today, alongside a template of this letter (and annexed material), on the ONR website.

Some of you have already provided informal feedback on the draft impact assessment as members of the Safety Directors Forum. This has helped us to prepare for the formal consultation, in particular in clarifying the anticipated impact of the changes for both licensees and the regulator in the supplementary guide. However, we recognise that we may still need to address some concerns and we will work with the industry to do this during the consultation period. 

My colleagues and I would very much like to hear your views on the proposed changes (Annex A); the attached note (Annex B); and the impact assessment posted on the ONR website. My colleagues will also be available to assist you with any questions you may have that relate to the consideration and development of your response.

Please send your responses by 30 June 2011 and any enquiries before that date to:

(Mr) Kobina Lokko
ONR Division 7: Corporate Affairs and ONR Secretariat
Desk 160
GNW Rose Court,
2 Southwark Bridge,
London
SE1 9HS

ONR will consider your views in finalising the proposed amendments and the supporting supplementary guide. The final revised licence conditions will be forwarded to all licensees for attachment to their current nuclear site licences before the implementation deadline of 22 July 2011.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Mike Weightman
HM Chief Inspector of Nuclear Installations and Head of ONR

Footnotes