The Office for Nuclear Regulation has today published the findings of its Chief Nuclear Inspector’s themed inspection of the Hinkley Point C project in Somerset.
The inspection looked into supply chain management arrangements for the major new build project in light of records falsification issues at one of Hinkley Point’s key suppliers – Areva’s Creusot Forge in France [now Framatome].
The nuclear regulator found that good progress had been made with improvements in some areas of supply chain management by the nuclear site licensee NNB GenCo.
However, five key areas were identified where further improvements are required ahead of acceleration in both construction and manufacturing for the Hinkley Point project. These are detailed in an inspection summary report.
For this reason, ONR has rated the overall inspection finding as ‘amber’. This means that some arrangements are below standard and ONR is seeking improvements against a number of Regulatory Issues that have been raised under Licence Condition 17 (Management Systems).
ONR’s new themed inspections are designed to examine regulatory matters that are strategic or broader in nature than its more routine regulatory inspection activities. Instigated by the Chief Nuclear Inspector (CNI), they will also raise awareness of important issues and highlight ONR’s regulatory activities and expectations to a wider audience, in addition to the nuclear industry.
The regulator proactively sought to scrutinise the supply chain management arrangements for the Hinkley Point project, working alongside the French nuclear safety regulator Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN).
A total of 11 ONR inspectors examined the robustness of NNB GenCo’s arrangements for ensuring the quality of plant structures, systems and components for the new nuclear power plant. Inspections took place over seven days in both England and France.
The inspection was targeted during the early stages of construction and manufacturing to allow the regulator to reinforce its expectations and allow NNB GenCo to address any identified shortfalls prior to acceleration of both construction and manufacturing activity.
Mark Foy, ONR Chief Nuclear Inspector, said:
“NNB GenCo is undertaking work associated with design, construction and early manufacturing activities for Hinkley Point C. Current arrangements for the control of quality are judged, through ONR’s wider regulatory activities, to be appropriate at present.
“ONR believes that good progress has been made by NNB GenCo and its key supplier Areva Creusot Forge in deploying their improvement programmes – including enhanced manufacturing processes, management system arrangements and safety and quality culture.
“However the inspection has identified a number of areas where improvements are required to ensure this position is robustly maintained as the project progresses and the volume of work and resources required increases.
“For each of the five Regulatory Issues that we have raised, detailed corrective actions will be agreed with NNB GenCo that will identify specific improvement activity and delivery dates. We will continue to engage with NNB GenCo and consider its progress against commitments during future regulatory assessment work associated with key project permissioning points.
“The ability to shape future safety in this way is an important role for a modern, responsive safety regulator and the CNI Inspection is an effective means for us to demonstrate that we are delivering against our strategic themes of ‘Influencing improvements in nuclear safety and security’ and ‘Inspiring a climate of stakeholder respect, trust and confidence’ in key areas.”