UK regulator reports on progress in 2017-2018

21 June 2018

The UK's Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has published its annual report highlighting the extent of its regulatory activities. These included more than 1000 inspections, design acceptance confirmation for a new reactor, ongoing modernisation of its regulations, and its participation in the first European topical peer review on ageing management of nuclear power plants.

The more than 1000 inspections were carried out during the year across 36 licensed sites and transport duty holders, "ensuring the required standards of safety and security were met to protect the public and workers", ONR said. It granted permission for licensees and duty holders to perform more than 30 nuclear-related activities, while five improvement notices were served and complied with.

Design acceptance confirmation was granted for the UK Advanced Boiling Water Reactor designed by Hitachi-GE and ONR said it had made significant progress developing a safeguards regime in preparation for the UK's exit from Euratom, "despite a challenging timescale".

Modernisation of regulation included a new Enforcement Management Tool, publication of an Enabling Regulation Guide and piloting of new Security Assessment Principles, or SyAPs.

ONR led the peer review of the Belarusian stress test on behalf of the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group and it coordinated the production of the UK's report to the Sixth Review Meeting of the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management.

In its first-ever stakeholder survey, 83% of those who responded said they were confident ONR is delivering its mission, although some stakeholders did express concerns about ONR's capacity and capability in the next five to ten years. Its workforce grew during the period by 8% to 564 full-time equivalent positions, supported by a new corporate Academy which is responding to the need to train more people, in all aspects of ONR's operations, in "more flexible and agile ways that meet the needs of a modern, mobile workforce", it said.

ONR's spending was "less than budgeted", primarily due to the reduced requirement for new build-related regulatory activities, delays to IT improvements, and savings arising from internal efficiencies and robust commercial negotiations.

Mark Foy joined ONR as chief nuclear inspector, while Simon Lister and Sarika Patel joined as non-executive directors.

ONR Chief Executive Adriènne Kelbie said: "We delivered over 20 improvement projects to lay strong foundations so that ONR is fit, not just for now, but for the long-term future. In particular, I'm pleased to have begun work on a strategic improvement project to improve regulation through better knowledge management and business processes."

Foy said that the majority of UK nuclear duty holders have "continued to achieve the high standards of safety and security that society should expect of the industry, thereby protecting the workforce and public from harm".

He added: "We continue to apply significantly enhanced levels of regulatory attention to a small number of licensees that do not meet the standards we expect. I am satisfied that their facilities remain safe, but we have been working closely with these licensees to ensure that they have well-defined plans to improve their performance and a clear path to achieving routine regulatory attention, where practicable."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News