NII Quarterly Report on AWE

Intermediate Level Waste Specifications:

NII has agreed that AWE has met the requirements of Licence Instrument, LI 48 (which required the reclassification of 130 drums of ILW as LLW (low level waste)). However, LI 49 requires a certain amount of material to be put through an ILW treatment plant by end 2006. Due to the lack of a treatment plant AWE will not now be able to achieve this and has sought early renegotiation of this LI. AWE has now also accepted the need to move towards a supercompacting facility, and further discussions are ongoing concerning grouting (i.e. to secure passive safety).

Waste Issues:

Meetings with AWE took place to discuss an integrated waste strategy, progress with their QQR (Quinquennial Review, waste treatment plant closeout matters and ILW (Intermediate Level Waste) treatment plant. NII asked AWE to substantiate the case for unattended out of hours operation of the WTP (Waste Treatment Plant), due to start operations early March. An initial assessment of AWE’s case shows that doses from all potential leaks are very low. Nonetheless, AWE are being asked to confirm that timely action will be taken to seal any leaks identified out of hours.

Uranium Processing Facilities:

The AWE project team gave NII a presentation on further progress in the periodic safety case area. This work continues to be on schedule for delivery to NII in Dec 2006. AWE has been working with the NII Assessors and Inspectors to ensure that the approach applied to the revision of Safety Cases is clear, well understood and of an agreed standard. This will be confirmed by NII assessment of the Periodic Review of Safety (PRS).

Plutonium Facilities:

NII has issued a Licence Instrument (Agreement) for the commissioning work on a material test facility to proceed beyond hold point 2, inactive commissioning.

A total process summary report for the criticality fault trees and probabilistic safety assessment has been submitted by AWE for the main production facility. The report includes a list of the outstanding recommendations, and the overall impact on the risk. All recommendations requiring immediate attention to achieve acceptably low risk operations have been completed. Other lower priority recommendations are to be pursued as part of an ALARP (As Low As Reasonably Practicable) programme under the periodic safety report work.


New Assembly/Disassembly Facility:

New facilities offer safety gains from reduction of risks compared to facilities designed to older standards. NII is pursuing the early construction and use of new assembly/ disassembly facilities at Burghfield, in order that work associated with the current AWE programme is predominantly carried out in the new facilities. Recently delays have occurred in the design phase, which may result in extended use of the current facilities. NII has advised AWE that a consequence of extended use of existing facilities will be that the periodic safety report may need to contain more demanding justifications and additional engineering.

Periodic Report on Safety:

AWE has identified the work programmes associated with the Burghfield PRS. However, the detailed work packages are still awaited. NII will use these to judge the adequacy of remedial measures, and is concerned about the timing of submissions. The main PRS improvement work is to be completed by September 2007.

Disassembly Process:

The NII has undertaken observations of the dis-assembly of certain weapons components although time constraints did not allow the whole process to be viewed. Video evidence is to be used to conclude these observations.



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