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ONR launches new strategy for regulating Sellafield

27 May 2014

Sellafield ranks as one of Europe’s largest industrial complexes probably storing more radioactive waste in one place than any other nuclear facility in the world. Given the age and fragility of many of the facilities on site, it is a national priority to reduce the hazard and risk on site quickly and safely.

Sellafield, Cumbria
Sellafield, Cumbria

Whilst responsibility for hazard and risk reduction rests with DECC, the NDA and Sellafield Ltd, ONR has identified Sellafield as its number one regulatory priority, highlighted in Annual Plan 2014/15.

Andy Lindley, ONR Deputy Chief Inspector with responsibility for the Sellafield programme said: “ONR is committed to facilitating and expediting acceleration of hazard reduction at the Sellafield site, whilst maintaining the highest levels of safety and security. We have recently changed our regulatory approach to Sellafield, refreshed our team and updated our strategy for the programme, with a view to accelerating hazard and risk reduction on site.

There is no simple solution, and we appreciate that it will take time to resolve the complex issues which have led to the current situation and the ongoing delays in hazard and risk reduction. We have outlined our priorities to the site licence company Sellafield Ltd, and we expect them and other stakeholders such as NDA to respond to the challenges that we have set. I am confident that our new regulatory strategy will contribute to the overall risk and hazard reduction at Sellafield.”

The new regulatory strategy for Sellafield aims to ensure that all organisations are working to the same set of priorities and are using resources effectively. In addition ONR will work with Sellafield Limited to remove bureaucracy that is getting in the way of progress and unnecessary activities that are diverting people from the key priority tasks. Incentivisation and disincentivisation factors will be examined to determine whether people are empowered to move to new ways of working and ONR will aim to ensure that Sellafield Ltd is generating fit for purpose solutions to problems and not over complicating or over engineering, thereby delaying hazard and risk reduction. Progress with these factors coupled with an assessment of various organisations’ risk appetites will be communicated to stakeholders by a joint communications group.

Whilst delivery of improvements under these themes is particularly relevant to successful delivery of hazard and risk reduction, it is anticipated that improvements in these areas will also contribute to overall enhanced regulatory compliance of the Sellafield site. ONR will continue to publish all regulatory decisions relating to Sellafield and other nuclear licensed sites on its website.

Lindley continued: “This new strategy is innovative and will require lateral thinking; we have therefore put in place robust governance and assurance processes to support the challenging decisions we will have to make. Although this strategy represents a change in ONR’s approach, it is an approach that is tailored to deal with the challenges that are specific to the Sellafield site and represents a new, innovative way of working.”

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