June NIS Update

NIS Update       30th June 2009 


We hope you can join us at the Opening of the NIS office at 85 Southampton Street Reading RG1 2QU on Thursday 30th July at 6pm.


NIS has previously reported on MOD’s prioritising warhead work over the safety advice of the NII Regulators. The legal limitations of the NII experts to control the MoD is explained the following regulation dated 02/02/2007.

“the NII’s role is solely to identify and represent the nature and significance of any unacceptably heightened risk that may accrue if the MoD insists on a particular course of action.”  

“• in extremis, the NII may withhold a permission if it believes these risks are

intolerable and ALARP (As Low As Reasonably Possible) is grossly unbalanced.

• if the MoD continues with the proposed action, they will effectively have taken

responsibility for safety, a decision that would be expected to be taken only at

the highest level in connection with real defence-of-the-realm considerations

(although the decision-making process is a matter for MoD and not the NII).

• since the NII is not competent to judge the significance of defence interests,

DNSR’s (Defence Nuclear Safety Regulator) assistance will be essential to the ALARP discussion.

• In general it is preferable for the MoD to represent its concern over defence

needs during ALARP/permissioning considerations, rather than for the NII to

try to anticipate the possibility that it may arise and condition its thinking

accordingly. Such concerns would be expected to be set down formally in writing.”    Page 23


Minutes of the AWE LLC report that Cllr Cane raised an issue associated with AWE planning applications. Graeme Thomas from the NII said that as a non-statutory consultee, NII provides advice to Local Authorities with regard to planning applications in the vicinity of the Aldermaston and Burghfield sites but has no power to direct refusal of planning.

He explained that there is an obligation on HSE/NII to provide objective and consistent advice to Local Authorities with regard to planning applications in the vicinity of the Aldermaston and Burghfield sites in order to protect people and society from the hazards of operations on the site. NII are prioritizing their work with AWE to ensure recently implemented improvements to facilities and safety cases are properly informing the considerations for planning and Emergency Arrangements local to the sites. This issue is looked at nationally following Planning Advice for Developments near Hazardous Installations (PADHI) regulations.  A workshop with the NII for a sub-group of LLC members is to be arranged. 


In August 2007 West Berkshire Council commissioned Highway and Transport consultants WSP to undertake an investigation into the flooding throughout West Berkshire caused by the storm events experienced on the 20th July 2007. The Flood  Report for Aldermaston Village does not mention its proximity to AWE or the risk from radioactive Tritium contaminated water being released during flood conditions. See:http://www.westberks.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=16225&detailid=16295

Following the retirement of Don Cook, Robin McGill has been appointed as the new Managing Director of AWE plc. Mr McGill is an engineer by training and a former senior executive with the BP oil company who took early retirement before returning to work as the Chief Executive of the Institute of Engineering and Technology. His appointment at the head of AWE will mark a further step forward in AWE's efforts to develop its influence among the UK's science and engineering establishment.  
Robin McGill graduated from the University of Edinburgh in Engineering Science in 1977. He started his career with BP in 1977 as a mechanical engineer in the Rigidex polyethylene. In 1988 he transferred to BP’s Advanced Materials business, Carborundum Inc, in the USA, where he worked as a Business Manager for Boron Nitride in Buffalo, New York. In 1992 he returned to BP's core business in the USA. 
In 2001 Robin was appointed Chief Executive Officer of BP Solvay HDPE joint venture company, overseeing a large merger involving an organisational change and culture change programme. In 2004 he became the Managing Director of BP Grangemouth, where he was responsible for the Forties Pipeline System, Kinneil gas terminal, the Petrochemical and Refining assets at Grangemouth, transporting a third of UK oil production with a value of bn and one of the top five petrochemical sites in Europe; with 1800 full time employees.  
He is a member of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers and Chartered Engineer, and has served as a council member with the Scottish CBI as well as being a representative on various trade bodies. He is married with two grown up children.  

Out of date AWE Environmental Safety Information

The last Safety Assurance Report available on the AWE website is dated June 2008. The last Quarterly Environmental Monitoring Report available is dated December 2007and the last monthly Atmospheric Discharge Monitoring Report listed is for January 2009. Alpha Discharges for January were 3.12 kBq, well below the 165 kBq Annual Discharge Limit. However, there is no quarterly Limit for Alpha discharges as there is for Krypton-85 and Tritium, and the majority of Alpha discharges could be released all at once during the year. Without the publication of its monthly reports, AWE cannot expect the public to have confidence in its safety regime.

See: http://www.awe.co.uk/Publications.aspx?SubCategory=ece18ee

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