Office for Nuclear Regulation

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Improvements required at AWE

19 July, 2019

The Office for Nuclear Regulation has served Improvement Notices on the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) relating to the way the company undertakes risk assessments for organisational change which may affect safety.

The independent nuclear regulator does not consider that the issue poses an immediate risk to nuclear safety, but expects to see sustained improvements so that safety is not adversely affected in the future.

On a nuclear licensed site, the licensee’s arrangements for the management of organisational change must ensure that the nuclear safety implications of a proposed change are fully considered and that risks arising from the implementation of the organisational change are recognised and suitably controlled.  These arrangements must be part of a licensee’s management system.

ONR has been focusing on AWE’s organisational change performance for some time. Despite a previous enforcement letter, undertaking targeted inspections and the provision of regulatory advice and guidance, ONR judges that AWE has failed to adequately address shortfalls.

The Aldermaston and Burghfield sites have been served with two identical notices because each has a separate nuclear site licence.

The company is required to comply with the Improvement Notices by 15 January 2021.


Background information

ONR has a team of inspectors which engages with AWE regularly, including undertaking frequent inspections, to hold the company to account, and to seek evidence that the required improvements are being progressed.

Separate to these Improvement Notices, ONR recognises and welcomes the fact that AWE has developed a Structured Improvement Programme (SIP) focused on corporate-wide, sustained safety improvements.

The AWE SIP is now at the implementation phase and ONR has already seen evidence of improvements in a number of areas.