Senior leaders from The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) attended the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s (NDA) annual stakeholder summit in Scotland to hear about their ongoing work cleaning up the UK’s civil nuclear sites.
The NDA invited key stakeholders to the two-day event in Edinburgh to discuss pertinent topics for the nuclear sector and wider public.
This is the first time in three years the summit has been held face-to-face, due to the pandemic, and delegates welcomed the opportunity to have in-person interactions enabling them to form and renew working relationships.
Sarah High, ONR’s Deputy Chief Executive, Paul Dicks, ONR’s Director of Regulation – Sellafield, Decommissioning Fuel and Waste, and Stuart Fannin, nominated site inspector for Hunterston A and B, attended the event to hear about some of the NDA achievements during the past three years and the challenges to come.
Along with ONR, attendees at the ‘Keeping the Conversation Going’ summit included representatives from Sellafield, Magnox, Dounreay, Nuclear Waste Services, Nuclear Transport Solutions, The Scottish Government, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), EDF Energy, local authorities, site stakeholder group (SSG) representatives, Non-Governmental Organisations and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
Speakers delivered a programme of informative sessions that focused on areas including the ongoing mission of Magnox to clean up 12 legacy sites, their continuing work retrieving waste and developing waste storage and the transition of the Advanced Gas-Cooled Reactor (AGRs) stations from EDF Energy ownership to the NDA.
Delegates also heard about the restructuring to create ‘One NDA’, the positive contribution being made by our leaders of tomorrow through the Young Generation Network (YGN).
Each of the NDA Groups provided an update on progress which included a discussion led by Nuclear Waste Services detailing the question of disposal, the current approach for low-level repositories, activity to secure a future Geological Disposal Facility (GDF), and potential other disposal routes currently being explored.
A keynote address was given by Mairi McAllan, Scottish Minister for the Environment, and Land Reform, who spoke about the importance of the NDA’s work in Scotland, the environmental and sustainability agendas, and support for communities.
Sarah High said: “The last face-to-face NDA summit was held in 2019 and this event has reinforced the power of being in the room to engage effectively across a broad range of stakeholders.
“It was a really interesting and informative event with a recurring focus on opportunities for collaboration, innovation and ensuring the industry develops the right skills, capacity and capability for the future. There was a universal view that we need to invest time and effort now to promote careers and opportunities in the nuclear industry to inspire, attract and retain the people with the skills we need now and for the future.
“Collaboration, transparency and a safe and secure future were key themes throughout the event which resonated with our ambitions in ONR while recognising our unique regulatory role and the independence, objectivity and expertise that ONR can contribute to the conversation.”
Paul Dicks added: “It was excellent to hear about areas of good progress made across the whole NDA estate, recognising areas of delivery and listening to the NDA vision and plans for the future dealing with the big task ahead within the UK to clean up the sites safely, securely and cost effectively.
“It’s important not to underestimate the scope, scale and complexity of the challenge facing the UK and recognise the key roles that NDA, site licence companies, the supply chain, and of course ONR, the UK’s independent regulator, have in dealing with decommissioning the nuclear estate.
“We need to continue to work in a constructive manner with them all, maintaining ONR’s open and honest approach and hold dutyholders to account, where necessary, according to our regulatory functions and purposes.”
The NDA is sponsored and funded by BEIS, and its plans are approved by the UK government and Scottish ministers, who provide a framework for its ongoing work.