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ONR rolls out new security guidance to industry

The Office for Nuclear Regulation today issued new security guidance to the civil nuclear industry in a move which Adrian Freer, the ONR Deputy Chief Inspector responsible for civil nuclear security regulation, describes as a ‘new chapter’ for the industry.

The launch of the National Objectives, Requirements and Model Standards (NORMS) document substantially changes the way in which dutyholders will need to plan and implement their site, personnel, information and transport security arrangements in order to comply with the requirements of the Nuclear Industries Security Regulations (NISR) 2003.

Until now, the extant NISR 2003 Technical Requirements Document (TRD) has set out for dutyholders, in a prescriptive approach, what the regulator requires them to do to ensure security standards on their sites are met and maintained. But in line with Government policy on regulation, and ONR’s increasing integration of its various disciplines, NORMS will move the regulation of civil nuclear security towards a more goal setting, outcome based approach, with far greater onus on dutyholders to propose and justify security arrangements that meet ONR’s defined security objectives.

The NORMS document sets out those security objectives and recommends ‘model standards’, or best practice. ONR’s new approach will require dutyholders to either apply the model standards, or present and justify alternative measures to ONR where, for example model standards cannot be achieved, such that all sites, irrespective of age, meet the same objectives.

Alan Brandwood, Chairman of the Safety Directors Forum – a group of senior leaders from across the nuclear industry which considers regulatory developments and promotes co-operation across the industry said:

“The Safety Directors Forum welcomes the publication of the NORMS and the shift to an outcome-focused model that they represent. They are a vital step in bringing alignment between the regulation of civil nuclear security and nuclear safety. The introduction of NORMS also facilitate operators in developing security measures and improvement programmes which are right for their business and proportionate to the security risk. They also fit well with the overall ethos and direction of the Office for Nuclear Regulation, which is now widely viewed as an international leader in nuclear regulation.”

Organisations across the civil nuclear industry have had the opportunity to comment on the approach and have participated in a number of workshops to inform its development. The approach has the official backing of DECC, and has been subject to a regulatory impact assessment by the Regulatory Policy Committee. This is in line with the requirement for all UK Government interventions of a regulatory nature to seek to quantify the costs and benefits of a particular policy approach. The timescale for the implementation of NORMS at sites will be agreed by ONR with individual dutyholders.

As the new guidance document is protectively marked, it will not be made available to the public.