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ONR publishes stress test final report on UK non-power generating nuclear facilities

22 May 2012

On May 15 the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) published its stress test assessment on UK non power-generating nuclear facilities. These are in addition to the stress tests carried out at UK nuclear power plants last year, which were required by the European Council, and the report for which which was published by the ONR last October.

The largest number of stress test findings, 25, applied to Sellafield
The largest number of stress test findings, 25, applied to Sellafield

The tests were requested last year by chief nuclear inspector Mike Weightman following the accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant in Japan.

For both reports, licensees of the facilities carried out the stress tests against defined assessment criteria and the Office for Nuclear Regulation then independently reviewed the results.

Mark Foy, a senior inspector at the Office for Nuclear Regulation, who was involved in producing the non-power generating nuclear facilities report, said: “Fukushima Dai-ichi provided the world with a unique opportunity to learn from a serious nuclear accident. We have required licensees to assess how well they would deal with extreme situations beyond what they would normally consider in their regular safety reviews.

“This report concludes there is work to be done to make sites more resilient, but no serious safety weaknesses have emerged. There are 75 findings. The majority cover severe accident management and back-up for key systems and functions, and we are requiring licensees to address the issues raised.

“The stress test process will enhance safety. We are ensuring that lessons are learned and that we continue to challenge the UK nuclear industry, regulators and Government to continuous improvement.”

The majority of the findings require the licensees to undertake further reviews following stress tests, and for the most part are aimed at severe accident management and backup capability for key systems or functions. There are also a number of findings recommending that be more extensive assessment of the seismic hazard, flooding and extreme weather events may be appropriate.  

The October report on nuclear generating plants raised only 19 stress test findings, and ONR says the 75 STFs for non-generating nuclear facilities is a reflection of the number of the licensees involved and the diverse nature of the facilities they operate. 

Of the STFs identified in this report two are generic, 25 cover Sellafield Ltd, 33 cover the five defence licensees – Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), Rolls-Royce Marine Power Operations Ltd (RRMPOL), BAE Systems Marine Ltd (BAESM), Devonport Royal Dockyard Ltd (DRDL) and Rosyth Royal Dockyard Ltd (RRDL); six are dedicated to Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd (DSRL), three to Springfields Fuel Ltd, two to the defuelled reactors of Magnox Ltd, two to Urenco UK Ltd, one to Research Site Restoration Ltd (RSRL) and one is addressed to EDF Energy NNB Generation Company Ltd (NNB GenCo) in relation to the potential future licensed site at Hinkley Point C.  

The are framed in the context of continuous improvement, and the conclusion of HM Chief Inspector’s report stating that ONR sees no reason to curtail the activities of nuclear installations in the UK remains valid.

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