Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy written question – answered on 17th September 2020.

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Photo of Caroline Lucas Caroline Lucas Green, Brighton, Pavilion

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the incident reported at Sellafield on 14 August 2020, what reports his Department has received of the effectiveness of the implementation of the safety changes proposed in the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) Assessment of the Sellafield Ltd Analytical Services Second Cycle Long Term Periodic Review, Project Assessment Report ONR-SDFW-PAR-2017-007, dated June 2017; and what matters remain outstanding.

Photo of Nadhim Zahawi Nadhim Zahawi Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

Following the incident in 2017, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) issued an enforcement letter to Sellafield Ltd. The letter required the regulator to review and improve their arrangements for managing waste chemicals across the site, including implementing a plan for their disposal or safe storage. Given the large quantity and variety of chemicals held on the site, this has been a significant and complex undertaking.

The ONR have maintained oversight of Sellafield Ltd’s progress against the identified actions and its improvement plan through a Regulatory Issue. They are currently content with the progress being made on this matter and will continue with their work to ensure that Sellafield Ltd’s improvements in chemical management on the site are realised fully.

As a result of the increased focus on chemicals by Sellafield Ltd, during a routine inspection a potentially unstable chemical was identified. Action was taken to make the site safe and ultimately remove the chemical from the site. The potential exists for further such chemicals to be identified while Sellafield Ltd implements its improvement plan.

The ONR are satisfied that Sellafield Ltd’s response to this event was appropriate. The ONR’s inspectors are following up on this incident to determine if any further regulatory action is needed, in accordance with their established arrangements.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) reported this incident and the subsequent regulatory activity to the Department as part of its regular monthly and quarterly reporting requirements pertaining to regulatory activity and safety at Sellafield. This reporting is regularly reviewed by officials and is further enhanced by regular engagement between the Department, the ONR and the NDA.

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