When you hear about nuclear licensed sites, it is more than likely that you think about nuclear power plants generating electricity, or those that have done in the past. In reality, many nuclear licensed sites do not and have never generated electricity.
The first in a new series of articles outlining the Office for Nuclear Regulation’s regulation of non power plant licensed sites focusses on Studsvik’s Metals Recycling Facility (MRF), located at Lillyhall in Cumbria.
About Studsvik MRF
Studsvik was the first new nuclear licensed site in the UK for 20 years, actively operating since September 2009. It is a commercial facility, which offers a full recycling service for low level radioactive metallic wastes resulting from operational and decommissioning programmes across other nuclear licensed sites. Using best available techniques, the facility safely recycles large quantities of metallic wastes contaminated with low levels of radioactivity. By decontaminating metallic waste, it helps to ensure that the amount of low level waste that is sent for disposal to the Low Level Waste Repository is kept to a minimum, maintaining a valuable resource for supporting continued decommissioning of the nuclear industries legacy.
This is a key step in implementing the UK Government’s waste policy, and the NDA Low Level Waste Strategy, which ensures application of the waste hierarchy for the management of radioactive wastes.
How we regulate Studsvik MRF
ONR seeks to ensure that the MRF’s management team continues to deliver safe operation of the metals recycling service within their facility. The facility is currently regulated by ONR through delivery of consistently proportionate and targeted regulation, in accordance with the lower risk lower hazard methodology developed by ONR for the effective regulation of the diverse range of sites currently covered by the Decommissioning Fuel and Waste programme. Studsvik MRF is one of these sites.
As part of our aim to provide openness and transparency, we have produced a regulatory strategy and plan for Studsvik MRF, which outlines the delivery plan for the regulation of safety at the site. The plan currently concentrates on nuclear and radiological safety but will develop in the future to integrate other ONR regulatory functions, for example, security and transport.
Our inspectors carry out quarterly inspections at the site and the nominated site inspector is involved in regular monthly liaison meetings with management to discuss any developments; events that have occurred and any advised or noted improvements.
Studsvik have made appropriate adjustments to plant and operations from the operational experience gained during active commissioning, and are now preparing to make the transition from active commissioning to a fully operational facility. There will be a strong regulatory focus on this transition and ONR will seek to facilitate the delivery of the site’s operational safety case to ensure that hazards are understood and continue to be properly controlled.
Since active commissioning started, the facility has developed a strong organisational capability, and has responded positively to regulatory expectations, managing an effective transition into the regime of nuclear regulation. The Studsvik MRF has experienced recent growth, and since January has successfully added an additional shift to its operations. Studsvik has also recently conducted a comprehensive review of their safety management systems, making revisions to deliver suitable arrangements for compliance with site licence conditions that are leading good practice in operations within a low hazard nuclear facility.
Studsvik have established an informal local liaison group with local representatives of the community.
To find out more about Studsvik MRF, you can visit their website.