Office for Nuclear Regulation

Remote compliance inspection of Licence Conditions 10, 12 and 28

Executive summary

Purpose of Intervention

In accordance with the Office for Nuclear Regulation’s (ONR’s) Sellafield Strategy, each year ONR performs a series of planned compliance inspections of selected licence conditions, targeted at those facilities with significant importance to nuclear safety.

This record describes the outcome from a planned compliance inspection at the Magnox Swarf Storage Silo (MSSS) facility on the Sellafield Site. This intervention targeted MSSS as it is a high hazard facility and its continued safe operation during the COVID-19 pandemic is key for continued nuclear safety of the Sellafield site. The purpose of the inspection was to confirm Sellafield Limited’s (SL) compliance to its corporate arrangements for Licence Conditions (LC): 10 (Training); 11 (Emergency arrangements); 12 (Duly authorised and other suitably qualified and experienced persons (SQEP)); 17 (Management systems); 23 (Operating rules); 26 (Control and supervision of operations); 28 (Examination, inspection, maintenance and testing (EIMT)); and, 36 (Organisational capability).

The inspection was undertaken remotely noting the limitations currently in place as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The inspection has been carried out in line with the ONR Sellafield Decommissioning, Fuel & Waste Division’s regulatory approach to the coronavirus situation.

In response to the pandemic, SL has recognised that its existing corporate compliance arrangements should remain unchanged and continue to be complied with where possible. Nonetheless, as a contingency, SL has developed variations to some of its corporate arrangements in order to introduce some flexibility, but in a way which still maintains compliance with legal obligations. SL has put in place variations to its corporate arrangements which affect its arrangements for compliance with LC 10, 12 and 28. Prior to this intervention, ONR has reviewed the relevant variations and is satisfied that they are adequate. This inspection has included consideration of whether the variations have been used at MSSS, and if so, whether they have been complied with.

Interventions Carried Out by ONR

This inspection was carried out against LCs 10, 11, 12, 17, 23, 26, 28 and 36. It sought to seek evidence of compliance in each case. However, it was recognised that given the remote nature of the intervention, a formal judgement of compliance would only be made should a sufficiently-sized sample of evidence be available under the circumstances. In this case, it was decided that a formal compliance rating was only possible against LCs 10, 12 and 28.

The inspections against LCs 10, 11, 12 and 36 were linked by consideration of a common theme, Minimum Safe Manning Level (MSML).

The inspection began with a question and answer teleconference between the ONR inspection team and the SL Nuclear Intelligence & Independent Oversight (NI&IO) internal regulator with representatives from MSSS. This session was supported by evidence that had been requested in advance. Further evidence was requested and provided following this session and in some cases clarifications were sought by separate phone calls. The inspection concluded with a follow-up teleconference. Regulatory judgements have been made based on the verbal answers and supporting documentary evidence.

Explanation of Judgement if Safety System Not Judged to be Adequate

This section is not applicable.

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

In relation to LC 10 and LC 12, the inspection focussed on training and demonstration of Suitably Qualified and Experienced Person (SQEP) for operations associated with the emergency situation defining the MSML.  We found that compliance with SL’s corporate arrangements was being maintained. In addition, the inspection found that the facility had needed to make limited use of a COVID-19 variation to SL’s corporate arrangements affecting these LCs.  Some advice was provided on future uses of the part of this variation dealing with extensions of SQEP authorisations.

In relation to LC 11, the inspection provided assurance that MSSS was maintaining its emergency arrangements in line with SL’s LC 11 arrangements.

In relation to LC 17, we identified a minor shortfall with regard to MSSS’s adoption and subsequent management of COVID-19 variations to SL’s corporate arrangements.  Relevant actions have been agreed: these are being tracked under a Level 4 (the lowest significance) Regulatory Issue relating to LC 17.

In relation to LC 23, the inspection provided assurance that MSSS was maintaining routine plant surveillance against its safe operating envelope in line with SL’s LC 23 arrangements.

In relation to LC 26, the inspection provided assurance that MSSS’s control and supervision of operations was in line with SL’s LC 26 arrangements.

In relation to LC 28, the inspection found that, over the period sampled, MSSS, continue to comply with the relevant statutory regulations and has appropriately prioritised and managed maintenance.

In relation to LC 36, we found that the MSML is defined by the need to respond to an emergency situation.  We consider it commendable that MSSS has established:  contingency measures in case the MSML had been challenged by COVID-19; that the MSML had not in fact been challenged to date; and, that COVID-19 has not impacted on MSML requirements.  SL has recognised a need to update its MSML documents.

Conclusion of Intervention

The LC 10, LC 12 and LC 28 compliance inspection concluded that the licensee had adequately implemented its arrangements for the aforementioned License Conditions. I therefore consider, noting the ONR guidance on inspection ratings, that an inspection rating of Green (no formal action required) is merited here for the MSSS facility on the Sellafield Site.

It was recognised that given the remote nature of the intervention, a formal judgement of compliance would only be made should a sufficiently-sized sample of evidence be available under the circumstances. A limited sample of evidence enabled ONR to gain assurance that in the case of LC11, LC 17, LC 23, LC 26 & LC 36 the MSSS facility was compliant with SL’s arrangements and no matters were identified that would require formal follow-up. However, the size of the evidence sampled was insufficient to underpin an Inspection Rating.  For LC 17, a Level 4 Regulatory Issue has been agreed with SL to track SL’s progress in addressing a shortfall relating to MSSS’s adoption and subsequent management of COVID-19 variations to SL’s corporate arrangements.