We have today published our Annual Report and Accounts highlighting our performance and key achievements for 2019/20.
We have continued to deliver our mission of protecting society by securing safe nuclear operations and can report that the majority of dutyholders have continued to meet the high standards of safety and security required. Where dutyholders have fallen short of such standards, we are satisfied that their facilities remain safe and that our regulatory focus has had a positive impact on their performance.
We completed more than 800 compliance inspections across 36 licensed sites during 2019/20, granting permission for 30 nuclear-related activities, serving three improvement notices and instigating one prosecution.
The rapid emergence of COVID-19 prompted significant changes in how we regulate. We took steps to work largely at home, and adjusted our plans to ensure we maintained effective regulatory oversight while keeping our people safe and well. We are now increasing our on-site regulatory work in accordance with public health advice but will also continue to inspect, assess and permission remotely where necessary to protect staff, workers on site, and the public around sites.
Throughout the year, issues associated with the ageing fleet of Advanced Gas Cooled Reactors were again a major focus for our inspectors. We dedicated considerable effort assessing the impact of the cracking of the graphite cores at Hunterston B and Hinkley Point B.
We permissioned a number of key enabling works at Sellafield in support of major hazard and risk reduction projects, while our Civil Nuclear Security and Safeguards team was busy supporting the transition to outcome-focused security regulation, assessing and approving new site security plans across the industry.
The Generic Design Assessment of the UK HPR1000 reactor design completed Step 3 in February 2020. The design is now in the final step of the GDA process and we anticipate completing the Step 4 assessment during 2021/22.
ONR Chair Mark McAllister said: “Since joining ONR on 1 April 2019 for a five-year period, I have spent a significant part of my first year engaging with as many stakeholders as possible, and I have been impressed and assured by the overwhelmingly high regard in which ONR is held by those I have met.
“My thanks must particularly go to the dedicated, hard-working and unstintingly loyal staff without whom the organisation could neither flourish nor deliver its purpose to society. This was brought into sharp focus in the latter part of the reporting year through the resilience that was shown at all levels as we responded to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic while ensuring we maintained effective regulatory oversight.
“I am pleased to report that we have again delivered our mission and achieved our 2020 vision. As we look ahead, I have every confidence in our senior leadership team to see through the strategic improvement projects already underway that will enhance the organisation’s information and knowledge management system, and successfully deliver the aspirations of our new strategy.”
Chief Executive Adriènne Kelbie said: “Our mission is to protect society by securing safe nuclear operations and I’m pleased to report that we have delivered our aims, while maturing our ways of working.
“On more than one occasion in the last financial year, our approach was highlighted as best practice, including our Security Assessment Principles, our new Organisational Effectiveness Indicators, Integrated Audit and Assurance model, Strategic Framework for International Engagement, our engagement with interested stakeholder groups, and our ONR Academy. In addition, our new nuclear safeguards and nuclear material accountancy function is being seen as an exemplar.
“With four years at the helm of ONR, it is heartening to close out our 2020 strategy in such a positive position as we strive to be a modern, transparent regulator – delivering trusted outcomes and values.”
Chief Nuclear Inspector Mark Foy said: “I am fortunate to lead a dedicated and professional regulatory team that is focused on effectively delivering our core regulatory purpose while influencing proportionate improvements.
“Key regulatory achievements during the year include our scrutiny of the impact of the cracking of graphite cores at Hunterston B and completion of Step 3 of the Generic Design Assessment of the UK HPR1000 reactor design. We also hosted the Integrated Regulatory Review Service Mission on behalf of the UK, and I was pleased the review found that ONR has a mature regulatory framework that could be emulated by other regulatory authorities to improve their understanding and implementation of IAEA safety standards.
“As we embark upon our new five-year strategy, I look forward to working with the Board, Chief Executive and all of the people in ONR to deliver it efficiently and effectively, ensuring the continued protection of the public.”