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Kayleigh’s International Nuclear Mission

A young nuclear inspector will play a key role in a global study into the decommissioning of nuclear facilities damaged as a result of neglect, accidents or conflicts.

Kayleigh Harden, from Warrington, works for the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR). ONR independently regulates nuclear safety and security across the UK.

Kayleigh, 28, is one of Britain’s youngest nuclear inspectors. Her regular work revolves around inspecting Sellafield, the nuclear reprocessing plant in Cumbria.

She will now also lend her expertise to an international working group assessing lessons learned from the decommissioning and remediation of damaged nuclear facilities.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) three-year project will evaluate case studies such as the accident at Chernobyl in Ukraine and Iraq’s Al Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Centre which was heavily damaged in the Gulf War. It will also focus on legacy facilities such as those at the UK’s Sellafield site.

Kayleigh travelled to Vienna recently to meet with IAEA colleagues from around the world as they embark on the DAROD project (Decommissioning and Remediation of Damaged Nuclear Facilities).

She was appointed vice-chair of the DAROD regulatory working group and will contribute to a final report which will highlight lessons learnt and disseminate practical guidance to operators and regulators of nuclear facilities around the world.

Kayleigh said: “It’s a fantastic opportunity for me and ONR to be involved in such a significant project. It is a new challenge and means I can play a key role in positively influencing the final report.

“ONR is seen as an international leader in nuclear regulation. While in Vienna we presented on our regulatory strategy for Sellafield and received very positive feedback. By being part of this IAEA project we will be able to share our work and good practice internationally.”

Kayleigh graduated with a Masters Degree in physics from The University of Manchester in 2009, Her first role was on the nuclear graduate programme at BAE Systems in Barrow-in-Furness.

From there she joined RSD, now the Regulatory Support Directorate of AMEC Foster Wheeler, where she worked to support the Defence Nuclear Safety Regulatory in a variety of roles before joining ONR in September.

Kayleigh participated in the Nuclear Institute’s Technical Tour of Ukraine in 2013 where she visited the damaged nuclear reactor at Chernobyl.