Safety Regulators Newsletter report on AWE plc

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The Nuclear Installations Inspectorate of the Health and Safety Executive has issued warning notices to AWEplc requiring the company to provide records of radioactive materials. HSE Nuclear Newsletter Issue 42, April 2008 Page 27 AWE (Atomic Weapons Establishment) In accordance with our Integrated Intervention Strategy, we continue our early engagement with the licensee on significant projects to ensure our regulatory expectations are given due consideration early in the decision-making and optioneering process, thereby minimising future potential regulatory risk.

A formal hierarchical framework of regulator/licensee meetings has now been established that involves other regulators (DNSR and the Environment Agency), which is working well, where important milestones and regulatory hold points are discussed.

We are continuing to assess a number of PSR submissions relating to facilities across both the Aldermaston and Burghfield sites. In addition we are providing advice and guidance to the licensee as it implements improvements to its PSR processes arising from a review it undertook following HSE findings relating to early PSR submissions. Parts of the AWE sites suffered from flooding in July 2007, particularly the Burghfield site, which delayed remediation work identified by the PSR and affected the emergency arrangements infrastructure.

The facilities are now almost back to the pre-event condition and PSR remedial work has been resumed. Revised emergency response arrangements were witnessed and permission to sanction routine operations will be sought shortly. We have issued three Licence Instruments.

The first agreed to the limited continued use of the current process facilities for weapons assembly/disassembly in accordance with our permissioning approach to secure efficient delivery of identified improvements. The remaining Licence Instruments (one covering Aldermaston and a similar one for Burghfield) require the licensee to provide HSE with records of certain types of radioactive material.

In June 1999, HSE issued a specification (Licence Instrument 33) which obliged AWE to encapsulate legacy waste sludges into a safe passive state by 1 January 2008. This has now been accomplished. Following a number of operating rule breaches over the past 12 months, HSE is currently investigating and reviewing options to determine the best way forward to secure improvements.