ONR is the statutory safety regulator for GB nuclear sites, where we regulate activities prescribed in the Energy Act 2013. The Act states that ONR has five purposes:
- The Nuclear Safety purpose (section 68),
- The Nuclear Site Health and Safety Purpose (section 69),
- The Civil Nuclear Security purpose (section 70),
- The Nuclear Safeguards purpose (section 72) and
- The Nuclear Transport purpose (section 73).
The Energy Act 2013 (section 88) enables ONR to carry out or commission research in connection with those purposes, and to publish the results if it considers it appropriate to do so.
ONR published its research strategy in September 2019, which states that it will use research to support its independent regulatory decision making. The main objective of the strategy is to ensure that ONR's inspectors will form their regulatory judgements confidently and effectively using sound, up to date scientific and technical information.
The strategy identifies three main drivers for ONR to carry out or commission research:
- ONR requires independent advice to assist with our decision-making, particularly where the decisions we make might be considered to be contentious.
- ONR has identified a knowledge gap which requires research, and has invited the dutyholders concerned to complete the work and share their results. However, they have declined to do so, or declined to do so within acceptable timescales.
- ONR specialists require greater understanding and oversight of developing innovations or emerging subjects, to enable our regulatory decisions to be based on the most up to date information.
The Professional Leads for each of our specialisms regularly review their specialist areas and maintain a list of research proposals, these are listed in the ONR Regulatory Research Register.
To demonstrate that it is commissioning research in a proportionate and appropriate manner, ONR performs an internal evaluation of the effectiveness of research we commission. In order to deliver the expectations of the Treasury guidance on Managing Public Money, ONR also confirms the effectiveness of some research via independent third party review. Any research commissioned by ONR may be selected for independent third party review of its effectiveness. This is more likely where that research might recommend changes of regulatory expectation or approach, or where expert opinion is divided. In these cases, gaining an independent review of the effectiveness of the research acts to strengthen our position.
An independent culture assessment of the Office for Nuclear Regulation
- ONR-RRR-013 (Contract ONR-303)
Study of the local heat transfer coefficient on peripheral PWR assembly fuel in the event of Touching Spacer Grids.
- ONR-RRR-014 (Contract ONR-304)
Review of the established good practices in development of Clad Ballooning & Embrittlement models for higher burnup PWR fuel.
Review of developments in graphene and its potential safety benefits and issues within the nuclear industry.
Use of Burn-Up Credit in the Assessment of Criticality Risk
The Assurance of Human Computer Interfaces and Interactions
Remediation Techniques for Radioactive Contaminated Land on Nuclear Licensed Sites - 2020
Review of ONR internal report 'Assessment of Radioactively Contaminated Land Remediation Techniques’ - 2019
Investigation into the application of Storm Hazard Curve
Extreme weather events in the UK
Literature Review of Recent NERC-Funded Studies of Relevance to ONRs External Hazards Discipline
Underpinning the UK Nuclear Design Basis Criterion for Naturally Occurring External Hazards
Beyond Design Life Regulatory Expectations For The Substantiation Of Structures, Systems And Components Important To Safety And Security – Phase 1
Beyond Design Life Regulatory Expectations For The Substantiation Of Structures, Systems And Components Important To Safety And Security – Phase 2
Provision of Information on Chromium Doped Fuel for use in Light Water Reactors
- ONR-RRR-076 (Contract ONR-378)
Research Supporting Regulatory Guidance for New Technologies and New Materials
- ONR-RRR-077 (Contract ONR-352)
The effect of temperature on the criticality safety of fissile systems
- ONR-RRR-083 (Contract ONR-668)
Overview of Current Practices and Guidance Applicable to Seals for use in Radioactive Materials Transport Packages and other Nuclear Safety Applications
- ONR-RRR-084 (Contract ONR-386)
Multi Unit PSA
- ONR-RRR-086 (Contract ONR-375)
Dual Purpose Casks
- ONR-RRR-087 (Contract ONR-379)
Review of RGP, Statute and Regulations Applicable to the Performance, Integrity and Execution of Bolted Connections for Primary Containment and Transport Packages
Review of the iron-based materials applicable for the fuel and core of future Sodium Fast Reactors (SFR)
The efficacy of peer checking as an error capture and recovery measure
Development of a nuclear industry safety culture inventory (NISCI)
PSA Best Estimate C&I Software Modelling and Reliability
Research into the potential uses of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning on UK nuclear licensed sites, and approaches to their substantiation – Phase 1
Independent Research into the Seismic Isolation of SMRs and AMRs