Office for Nuclear Regulation

AWE Aldermaston – Inspection ID: 22-050

  • Site: AWE Aldermaston
  • IR number: 22-050
  • Date: July 2022
  • LC numbers: N/A

Executive summary

Purpose of Intervention

An ONR investigation in 2021 identified examples of radioactive materials within AWE Explosives Technical Centre (XTC) that had not been subject to appropriate storage, treatment and disposal. The purpose of the inspection was to follow up on AWE’s progress in response to the associated ONR enforcement letter (ONR-EL-21-033) and the AWE actions within it which are tracked in an ONR regulatory issue (#10469).

Interventions Carried Out by ONR

The inspection involved ONR’s site inspector for XTC, the previous site inspector who issued the enforcement letter and also ONR’s radiation protection specialist inspector.  The engagement included office-based interactions as well as an on-site inspection to the B*** facility which was previously identified as having inadequate storage arrangements for its radiological inventory.

Explanation of Judgement if Safety System Not Judged to be Adequate

Not Applicable.

Key Findings, Inspector’s Opinions and Reasons for Judgements Made

Following the inspection, ONR judged AWE now has sufficient arrangements for radioactive sources to be stored in the XTC B*** facility areas (if a requirement to hold radioactive sources arises in the future). ONR also considers AWE has undertaken an adequate lessons learnt exercise from the event and that XTC has taken appropriate steps to disseminate wider learning across the AWE tech centres. Based on the evidence presented by AWE, ONR recommends closure of the three actions raised as part of the enforcement letter and monitored through ONR regulatory issue #10469.

Conclusion of Intervention

During the inspection an unexpected problem was identified of water leaks within B***.  This issue was identified during the ONR investigation in 2021 and has not yet been resolved.  ONR proposes this shortfall should now be tracked as a new level 4 regulatory issue.