Office for Nuclear Regulation

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Improvement Notice served on AWE

13 July, 2015

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has served an Improvement Notice on the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) for failing to demonstrate that its long-term strategy for managing Higher Active radioactive Waste reduces the future risk to the public and employees so far as reasonably practicable.

The Improvement Notice is a key step in a programme aimed at securing hazard reduction of all AWE’s Higher Active radioactive Waste, and follows AWE’s failure to comply with a Licence Instrument requiring the reduction in volume and encapsulation of 1,000 drums of radioactive waste by 20 February 2014.

ONR is targeting the entirety of AWE’s Higher Active radioactive Waste and is pursuing a staged approach to enforcement.

This enforcement action relates to the long-term management of Higher Active radioactive Waste. ONR is satisfied that the current conditions under which the waste is stored are acceptable and do not give rise to significant risk to the public or the workforce.

However, ONR considers that AWE has contravened the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 by failing to demonstrate that its long-term strategy for managing Higher Active radioactive Waste reduces the future risk to the public and employees so far as reasonably practicable throughout the anticipated storage life of the waste at Aldermaston.

The Improvement Notice requires AWE to recommend options to ONR by 30 September 2016 for how it will manage all Higher Active radioactive Waste in a way that closes this compliance gap.

Once AWE has met the requirements of the Improvement Notice, ONR’s regulatory approach will continue to consider whether further proportionate enforcement action is needed to ensure the recommendations are implemented and appropriate passivation of the waste achieved. This approach recognises that passivation of the waste will require a number of different projects to be established and completed over a sustained period.

Alongside this formal enforcement action, as part of our ongoing engagement, ONR will influence timely delivery of programmes of work by AWE and provide continued confidence in the safe and secure storage of waste, working to ensure that the options identified in complying with this notice will have been fully implemented in a timely manner.


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