Five Notable Developments in Nuclear This Week 05.04.2019

1. Sellafield fined after worker exposed to eight times the annual limit of plutonium

Sellafield, the Cumbrian nuclear processing plant, has admitted to health and safety breaches after a worker was exposed to eight times the annual limit of plutonium. The worker was using a glovebox to process radioactive materials when he received a puncture wound to one of his hands. The Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR) determined that Sellafield failed to properly asses the risks associated with the task; had the corroded probe been routinely replaced, the accident would not have happened.  As a result of this ruling, Sellafield has been fined £380,000 and ordered to pay costs of £96,753.22.

(Office for Nuclear Regulation, 2 April 2019, Link)

2. Chief Nuclear Inspector’s Independent Advisory Panel welcomes two new members

Peter Burt and Dr David Lowry both joined the Chief Nuclear Inspector’s Independent Advisory Panel (IAP) at their most recent meeting in Liverpool. They have been appointed for three years in order to increase the diversity of views and strengthen openness and transparency.

The IAP was introduced in 2016 to provide independent advice to the ONR on nuclear matters. The IAP currently meet bi-annually and bring together a range of experts from across the nuclear industry, the academic community, government departments and regulators.

(Office for Nuclear Regulation, 4 April 2019, Link)

3. National Grid’s Zero Carbon Operation 2025 includes nuclear

On 1 April 2019, National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO became a legally separate business within the National Grid Group. As part of the separation, ESO announced its new vision for the future, Zero Carbon Operations 2025. The ESO’s Director of Operations confirmed to Tom Greatrex, the Chief Executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, that nuclear is expected to be a vital contributor to a low-carbon energy mix. As Dr Robert Goss of Imperial College London stated, without nuclear ‘it’s very difficult to envisage complete decarbonisation.’

(Nuclear Industry Association, 2 April 2019, Link)

4. Figures show benefit of Hinkley Point C to local economy

Hinkley Point C has published a report highlighting the socio-economic benefits of the project. Since the beginning of construction, Hinkley Point C has created 6,500 jobs, 378 apprenticeships and delivered £9.4 million to local community projects. This is on top of £1 billion spent with regional companies in the south-west. Stuart Crooks, Managing Director, Hinkley Point C, commented that ‘this report shows we are also delivering on our ambition to make a lasting difference to people, skills and the regional economy. We are providing opportunities for people to develop their talents and build lasting careers.’

(EDF Energy, Hinkley Point C: Realising the Socio-economic Benefits, 1 April 2019, Link)

5. Nuclear Decommissioning Authority releases new business plan

Following a two month consultation on its draft 2019-2022 Business Plan, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has released the final version of the document. In the plan, the NDA outlines key future activities as well as the expected progress of all 17 sites currently being decommissioned.

(Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, 29 March 2019, Link)

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