NIS Update: June 2013

Atomic Weapons Establishment fined £200,000 for safety breaches

The company which operates the factories where the UK's nuclear weapons are manufactured has been fined £200,000 for breaches of safety laws following a fire in which a member of staff was injured.  Read more and watch our video blog on the case.


Scorecard documents “diminishing enthusiasm” for global nuclear disarmament

Progress on the abolition of nuclear weapons, and on strengthening barriers to their proliferation, remains “achingly slow” according to an authoritative scorecard report on the state of play in meeting commitments and recommendations agreed at the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference.  Read more.


Construction work begins on new submarine reactor core facilities at Rolls-Royce in Derby

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has given permission for Rolls-Royce Marine Power Operations Ltd to commence the first phase of construction for a major rebuilding programme for the company's Nuclear Fuel Production Plant at Raynesway in Derby.  Read more.


UK government outlines position on Fissile Materials Cut-Off Treaty

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has written to the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs to provide its views on a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT) in response to a resolution from the United Nations General Assembly aimed at breaking a deadlock in negotiations on such a Treaty.  Read more.


Scottish submarine berths suspended following inadequate emergency exercise performance

Three recent exercises to test nuclear emergency planning arrangements in the event of an accident on board one of the Royal Navy's nuclear powered submarines have failed to meet standards set by Government safety regulators.  As a result, nuclear submarines have been temporarily banned from berthing in two Scottish lochs.  Read more.


New Zealand Superannuation fund dumps investment in UK nuclear weapons programme

The New Zealand Superannuation Fund has pulled out of investing in Jacobs Engineering Group and Serco Group – two members of the contracting consortium responsible for managing the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), where the UK's nuclear weapons are designed and built.  Read more.


EU radiation protection review may bring changes to UK legislation

A review of European law on radiation protection may result in changes to UK regulations on nuclear safety, Ministers have said.

The European Commission (EC) has proposed extending its 'basic safety standards directive' to consolidate and improve a number of existing directives on radiation protection.  The directive aims to protect workers, the public, and the environment across Europe from the impacts of radiation.  
Since its introduction in 1958 the directive has been regularly updated to take account of developments in scientific knowledge and to plug gaps and resolve inconsistencies.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is currently negotiating the revision of the basic safety standards directive with the EU, in consultation with other government departments and agencies.

According to Michael Fallon MP, Minister of State for Energy at DECC, the government will be considering whether any revisions to the Radiation (Emergency Preparedness and Public Information) Regulations 2001 (REPPIR) are required when the directive has been finalised.  REPPIR represents the UK legislation which sets out steps that the nuclear industry and government agencies are required to take to protect the public from a radiation emergency at a nuclear site.

Nuclear emergency planning in the UK is already under review in the aftermath of the Fukushima emergency, with differing views between government, industry, local authorities, and civil society on the shape that revised protections should take.


Ministry of Defence nuclear emergency guidelines updated

The Ministry of Defence has published a new edition of its Local Authority and Emergency Services Information (LAESI) guidelines outlining contingency arrangements to be implemented in the event of an emergency during the transport of nuclear weapons or military nuclear materials.

The new guidelines, which were published in February 2013, contain only minor revisions to the previous version published in May 2011.


Trade unions raise Atomic Weapons Establishment safety concerns with regulator

Trade union safety representatives have raised concerns about proposed changes to night-time working arrangements at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) with a government safety regulator.

According to a quarterly report published by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), ONR was approached by workforce safety representatives at AWE who raised concerns over
the company’s proposals to change the detail of how the site is staffed in silent hours.   The report states that an agreed way forward was found following discussion with both the company and the safety representatives.

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