Regulatory Research Register
This Regulatory Research Register follows on from the ONR Research Strategy published in August 2015. As Director of Assurance, Policy & International within ONR, a role which encompasses regulatory standards and research, I am pleased to see the range of proposals presented in the Register crosses a wide spread of technical specialisms.
ONR undertakes research for a variety of reasons, but all of the research supports ONR’s enabling regulatory approach and is aligned with our Research Strategy. The work identified in this register will help ensure that our inspectors form their regulatory judgements confidently and effectively, using sound, up to date scientific and technical information.
The entries to the Register have been developed by ONR’s technical specialisms. Our Professional Lead for each specialism has reviewed the proposals and those which meet our defined regulatory research principles and criteria are listed in the following sections. The principles and criteria used to screen and prioritise our research proposals and check they are aligned with our strategic goals are described below. We liaise with other UK nuclear regulators, with the nuclear industry, and with other major UK nuclear research bodies to ensure our research proposals are appropriate.
To develop these proposals into tangible, useful outputs, we will convert the proposals into specifications, and then discuss these with the nuclear industry and key research providers. If appropriate, the nuclear industry will be invited to commission research to address these topics and share the results with ONR. If not, ONR will commission the research and publish the results. In most cases we will charge the costs of the research back to the relevant licensees and dutyholders.
Some of the research proposals describe long term ongoing research work which is being managed and delivered by industry groups. We monitor the delivery by these groups. This approach is particularly relevant to all the Control and Instrumentation research topics and many of the Structural Integrity topics.
For the graphite research, ONR has previously determined that we need to have research undertaken independently of the work the major reactor licensees also perform to underpin future safety cases. All of ONR’s independent graphite research topics are described for completeness in this register, this work is ongoing and will continue as needed.
Each year, ONR will publish an annual research update to confirm and publicise the work completed.
- The research proposal must align with ONR’s purposes as defined in the Energy Act.
- The research proposal must potentially support improved regulatory processes or decisions, or otherwise enhance the effectiveness of ONR’s inspectors.
- ONR will coordinate with industry and NIRAB/NIRO, sharing our regulatory research register to minimise duplication and overlap, but recognise that at times ONR will require a fully independent view of a topic to guide regulatory decisions.
- When possible ONR will work collaboratively with the nuclear industry to undertake regulatory research sharing the results across the industry in a fully open and transparent manner, noting independence as principle 3.
- All research undertaken and funded by ONR will be published, subject to confidentiality and security requirements
- Topics which support improvements to regulatory processes
- Topics which improve the definition of relevant good practice and thus support reasonable practicability tests
- Research to test/confirm safety/security case claims and arguments
- Research into potential safety/security issues associated with new technologies before their application to new or existing facilities
- Topics which improve the understanding of how stakeholders and the wider public perceive ONR
- Confirmatory research into the validity of assumptions underpinning safety cases
- Research to reduce uncertainties where existing models/data have weaknesses.
- Research which supports our independent decision making by giving us a diverse view of a subject from the licensees.
- Topics which could be used by licensees or duty holders solely to reduce margins or improve process efficiency
- Topics which could be construed as advocacy for a specific technology or licensee
- Topics for which other UK regulators or public bodies have greater vires, e.g Environment Agency/SEPA/NRW, Public Health England, etc.
- Research supporting R&D of new technologies.
- Topics supported by an individual inspector in their specialist field but which do not improve regulatory understanding or decision making
- Topics associated with provision of expert advice in relation to accidents in nuclear facilities abroad.
- Research to reduce uncertainties in understanding, where sufficiently conservative models for regulatory decision making already exist (as they could be used to reduce margins)
- Topics that underpin, supports or are used directly in the licensee’s safety justification.
Regulatory Research Register - September 2017
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