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Our People - Semra Zack-Williams, COMAH specialist inspector

‘Our People’ is a regular feature that gives both ONR colleagues and stakeholders the chance to learn more about the important work that goes on every day to keep the nuclear industry safe and secure.

It aims to bring our jobs to life while increasing understanding of our role among key stakeholders.

Today, we learn more about Semra Zack-Williams, a COMAH (Control of Major Accident Hazards) specialist inspector within the Nuclear Site Health & Safety team, about the role he plays in keeping people and the environment safe from dangerous substances.

While some elements of nuclear regulation are focused on ensuring the nuclear asset itself is safe, Semra works to ensure people and the environment remain safe.

Semra regulates how nuclear sites use, store and distribute large quantities of non-radiological dangerous substances. On our most hazardous sites with the highest chemical inventory, this is done via a COMAH safety report, similar to a nuclear safety case.

Semra is part of the COMAH competent authority, a collaboration between ONR and the environmental agencies (EA, SEPA, NRW), who work closely together to control the on and offsite risk of dangerous substances.

Unlike many aspects of nuclear regulation, COMAH isn’t affiliated to one division in ONR and Semra’s role spans the whole organisation.

He said: “I work with inspectors from every division, which is helpful as I can perform a COMAH safety interventions at the same time as a nuclear safety interventions, reducing the burden on the licensee and increasing efficiency.”

“When necessary, I collaborate with our specialists for their particular expertise - for example, when assessing a COMAH safety report, a team of specialists is formed to assist with the assessment from various disciplines (for example, human factors, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, etcetera.).”

Semra has a Chemistry Master’s degree from Liverpool John Moores University and before joining ONR earlier this year, was Head of SHEQ (Safety, Health, Environment and Quality) for the Industrial sector of the UK’s leading hazardous waste recycling organisation. Semra has also previously worked for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as a COMAH inspector.

He added: “Seeing the difference I make is rewarding. Liaising with site inspectors is a big part of my role – we have our defined purposes with nuclear safety and conventional health and safety, yet each need to be fulfilled. By working together effectively we can do that.”

“I’m particularly proud of my work so far with Urenco. In the three months I’ve been at ONR I’ve built up a good rapport with their team and the relationship is collaborative and proactive, with trust on both sides.”
Semra grew up in Liverpool and now lives on the Wirral with his family, spending much of his time outside work with his five-year-old son and six-year-old daughter. Semra coaches and plays basketball, and also likes riding motorbikes, although since having children has spent more time helping them with their various hobbies than focusing on his own.

Semra added: “So far, my time at ONR has been interesting and rewarding. I’m proud of the relationships I’ve built and look forward to seeing the profile of COMAH develop within ONR as we work with stakeholders to give them a greater appreciation of what we do.”