Office for Nuclear Regulation

Utilities, Electrical and COVID-19 compliance assurance inspection

Executive summary

Purpose of Intervention

Due to the current COVID-19 restrictions the Office for Nuclear Regulation’s (ONR’s) Sellafield Strategy of planned compliance inspections was postponed until the end of March 2021.   However, given the operational status of several facilities on the Sellafield site, a series of inspections seeking facility and site-based assurance were undertaken.  The inspections considered compliance at targeted operational facilities focussing on safe and compliant operations, maintenance, oversight, as well as overall site resilience, contingency planning and impact on hazard and risk reduction activities.  In addition, I inspected a number of buildings on the site to confirm that there were suitable arrangements in place in relation to COVID-19 compliance.  The opportunity was also taken to gain assurance on the implementation of the lessons learnt from the recent electrical safety events.

Interventions Carried Out by ONR

I carried out an on-site assurance inspection of Fellside Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Plant, Utilities (steam and electrical distribution), and a sample inspection in relation to COVID-19 compliance.  The inspection was undertaken on the 24th and 25th February 2021 and comprised discussions with SL and contractor staff, review of records and sampling of electronic databases and other documentation.

As part of the preparation for the delivery of this intervention, the following formal ONR guidance documentation was used:

Explanation of Judgement if Safety System Not Judged to be Adequate

This was not a system-based inspection and is therefore not applicable.

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

The inspection of Fellside CHP, the Utilities control room and the Sellafield Emergency Control Centre involved consideration of operational staffing levels, oversight and supervision, emergency arrangements, maintenance, as well as COVID-19 arrangements.  On the basis of the sample, I judge that SL and their associated contractors were taking all reasonable steps to maintain safe operation under the current COVID-19 arrangements. I was also satisfied that the managers and operators within the Fellside CHP and the Utilities facilities were aware of the site wide Improvement Notice on electrical safety and the SL expectations in relation to compliance.

The site wide inspection included a sample of the COVID-19 compliance arrangements for four of the key contractors on the site;

I judge that each of these contractors have implemented suitable and sufficient control measures including access controls, signage, spacing/segregation, control of movement, registration of occupants/visitors and the provision of hand sanitisers. 

Conclusion of Intervention

I judge that there was an insufficiently sized sample of evidence to underpin an inspection rating against any licence condition. However, on the basis of information sampled during this visit, sufficient assurance was provided that Fellside CHP and SL Utilities such that I was content that SL were safe to continue operating.  I was also satisfied that sufficient assurance was gained in the COVID-19 arrangements in place on the Sellafield site.  No matters were identified that would require formal follow-up.