Office for Nuclear Regulation

LC7 compliance inspection of the Highly Active Liquor Evaporation and Storage (HALES) Operating Unit

Executive summary

Purpose of intervention

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) undertakes all regulatory interactions with Sellafield Limited (SL, the site licensee) against a strategy defined by the ONR Sellafield Programme.  My planned inspection schedule PP5 for the current regulatory year (covering April 2015 – March 2016), the content of which is guided by that strategy, identifies the Licence Conditions (LCs) that will be inspected over this period.

I undertook the LC 7 inspection by meeting with facility representatives from the Highly Active Liquor Evaporation and Storage (HALES) Operating Unit (OU). This OU was selected for inspection since it controls the safe evaporation of Highly Active Aqueous Raffinate (HAAR), a product of fuel reprocessing at the site, and the interim storage of the evaporative product; Highly Active Liquor (HAL), prior to vitrification.  The safe operation of this facility is central to the control of one of the most significant hazards on the Sellafield licensed site.

Interventions Carried Out by ONR

The purpose of Licence Condition 7 (LC7) is to ensure that incidents on the site are notified, recorded, investigated and reported by the Licensee.

In light of the recent LC7 Inspections, particularly in MAGNOX and Corporate Sellafield, I chose not to focus on the areas of LC7 which have been inspected, as my expectations were that learning from these key inspections would have already been disseminated throughout the site. I reviewed what learning from recent events etc. has been embedded into the site and local HALES processes where applicable. The targets of my inspection were as follows:

Explanation of Judgement if Safety System Not Judged to be Adequate

Not applicable; this was not a Safety System inspection.

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

I consider that SL’s arrangements for compliance with LC 7 have been effectively implemented within the HALES OU. I identified some minor improvements that could be made, all of which were accepted by the licensee.

I consider the facility’s implementation of the site’s arrangements for LC7 is adequate.  Additionally, there are areas where the licensee is seeking improvement; event trending and effective use of investigation.  For these reasons, on balance, I consider the inspection findings merit an IIS rating of 3 (adequate) against LC7. This is consistent with the IIS ratings guidance, for which the relevant extract is:

“…Arrangements meet guidance requirements. Some opportunities for improvement under ALARP. Areas for improvement known, but being addressed only slowly. Site inspector able to identify minor points for improvement.”

Conclusion of Intervention

My findings were shared with, and accepted by, the dutyholders as part of normal inspection feedback.  No ONR Regulatory Issues were raised as a result of this inspection.