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ONR serves fire safety Enforcement Notice on Sellafield Ltd

10 January 2023

THE OFFICE for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has served an Enforcement Notice on Sellafield Ltd after inspections identified shortfalls in the fire alarm and fire detection system at the first-generation Magnox Storage Pond facility.

Fire safety inspections conducted by officials from the ONR – the UK’s independent nuclear regulator with the legal authority to regulate nuclear safety, civil nuclear security and safeguards, as well as conventional Health and Safety at the 35 licensed nuclear sites in Great Britain – discovered the shortfalls, leading to Sellafield Ltd taking the decision to suspend operations at the first-generation Magnox Storage Pond facility.

Sellafield Ltd has also now introduced enhanced fire monitoring surveillance and, in tandem, restricted all non-essential personnel from entering the facility.

Thankfully, there were no consequences for members of the public or the environment as a result of these shortfalls relating to contraventions of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

Kulvinder McDonald, superintending inspector at the ONR, commented: “The Enforcement Notice requires Sellafield Ltd to either replace or repair the fire alarm and detection system in the the first-generation Magnox Storage Pond facility. We will engage with Sellafield Ltd during the period of the Enforcement Notice in order to ensure that positive progress is made to address the shortfalls identified.”

The Enforcement Notice requires that Sellafield Ltd makes the necessary improvements by 28 February 2023.

The multi-function nuclear site that is Sellafield is located near Seascale on the Cumbrian coast. Primary activities undertaken at the location are nuclear waste processing and storage in conjunction with nuclear decommissioning.

Nuclear power generation took place at the site from 1956 until 2003, with nuclear fuel reprocessing work occurring from 1952 right through until this year. Reprocessing ceased on 17 July, in fact when the Magnox Reprocessing Plant completed its last batch of fuel after 58 years of operation.

The licensed Sellafield site covers an area of 650 acres and comprises more than 200 nuclear facilities and upwards of 1,000 buildings.