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ONR to investigate AWE failure to comply with legal LI

In 2007, ONR issued a licence instrument to AWE which required the reduction in volume and encapsulation of 1000 drums of intermediate level waste by February 2014. The licence instrument has now expired without its requirements being met.

ONR will investigate the licensee's failure to meet the requirements of the licence instrument and will consider enforcement action in accordance with HSE's enforcement policy.

AWE informed ONR in August 2011 that it would not be able to meet the terms of the licence instrument by the required date of February 2014. Since August 2011 ONR has pressed AWE to develop an appropriate solution which meets the main objective of the licence instrument – that is to demonstrate adequate progress in placing the hazardous material into a passively safe form. AWE has in response improved its arrangements for storing untreated intermediate level waste, and has made progress in developing its long term waste treatment and storage strategy.

ONR Inspectors inspect AWE's arrangements for the production and storage of all forms of radioactive waste at their facilities, and are content that the current conditions under which the intermediate level waste is stored are acceptable in the short term and do not give rise to significant risk to the public or the workforce. Any day-to-day regulatory issues arising with the safety of storage are dealt with through normal interactions with the licensee. The expired licence instrument related to the medium and long term management of the accumulated intermediate level waste (also referred to as higher activity waste) at the Aldermaston site.