Office for Nuclear Regulation

Capenhurst relicensing

4 April 2012

ONR recently received an application for the transfer of the Sellafield Limited Capenhurst licensed site to Urenco UK Limited, which occupies the adjacent nuclear licensed site in Cheshire.

A range of legal conditions are now required, including the re-licensing of the site and regulatory approval from ONR, to enable the transfer to take place. Relicensing of the entire site is currently proposed for 1 December 2012.

The proposed transition will result in the transfer of some Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) owned land, enabling the transition of the Capenhurst site to single licensee status. This means that the existing decommissioning and storage operations currently undertaken by Sellafield Limited would transfer to Urenco UK Limited as the single licensee.

If approved, there would be two major tenant organisations on the Capenhurst site: Urenco ChemPlants Limited who would build and operate a new Tails Management Facility; and Capenhurst Nuclear Services Limited who would operate what is currently the Sellafield Limited Capenhurst site. ONR will assess the licensees control and supervision of these two tenant organisations.

The size and shape of the Urenco UK Limited's organisation will also be assessed by ONR to ensure that the licensee is suitably equipped to incorporate the management of Sellafield Limited Capenhurst operations, including decommissioning, waste disposal and uranic material storage. ONR Nuclear Safety inspectors will work alongside inspectors from ONR Civil Nuclear Security, Safeguards and Radioactive Materials Transport teams as well as in close cooperation with the Environment Agency site inspector.

In addition to the relicensing application, another vital piece of work started on the Capenhurst site earlier this year. A new Tails Management Facility began construction at the site under the management of Urenco ChemPlants Limited in January 2012, with completion expected in 2015.

NDA and Urenco UK Limited have signed an agreement for the processing of government-owned by-product/legacy material from uranium enrichment, which is known as depleted Hex Tails through a new Tails Management Facility operated by Urenco ChemPlants UK Limited. The new facility will convert the uranium hexafluoride, Hex Tails to a form of uranium oxide, for safer long-term site storage. Hex tails are currently stored on both licensed sites at Capenhurst.