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Decommissioning consent for research reactor

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has granted consent for the decommissioning of Imperial College London’s nuclear research reactor CONSORT following a public consultation.

Approximately 10,000 times smaller than a nuclear power plant reactor, CONSORT operated safely from 1965 to 2012, providing facilities for teaching and research in many fields of nuclear science and technology.

ONR received an application from the licensee, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, in January 2015 to begin a decommissioning project that will involve the removal of all radiological and non-radiological waste and the demolition of the reactor centre to enable the site to be de-licensed. The reactor was successfully defueled in 2014, significantly reducing the safety hazard on site.

The granting of consent follows extensive public consultation involving 27 organisations and assessment of the licensee’s environmental statement and supporting evidence.

ONR concluded that a comprehensive assessment of the project’s likely environmental impact had been carried out and had demonstrated that the predicted environmental benefits far outweigh the possible adverse environmental effects.

Richard Savage, Deputy Chief Nuclear Inspector and Programme Director for ONR’s Decommissioning, Fuel and Waste Programme, said: “The process of assessing the potential environmental impacts of the project has involved extensive public consultation.  I take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been involved in this important work, especially those who took the time to send comments on the documentation provided by the licensee.”

ONR has attached conditions to the consent to ensure mitigation measures are implemented to minimise the environmental impact of the project, including a requirement on the licensee to prepare an annual environmental management plan updating on the project’s progress and reporting on the effectiveness of the mitigation measures. ONR will also continue to regulate throughout the lifetime of the project.

ONR has published its decision report, in the form of a Project Assessment Report, providing background details on the consent, the conditions attached, and details on the legal framework for nuclear safety under which consent was granted. Copies of the consent and report will be available in public libraries local to the reactor site and on the ONR website.

ONR grants consent to projects to decommission nuclear power stations and reactors under the Nuclear Reactors (Environmental Impact Assessment for Decommissioning) Regulations 1999.

The decision on the application to carry out a decommissioning project on the CONSORT reactor at Imperial College Silwood Park Campus under the Nuclear Reactors (Environmental Impact Assessment for Decommissioning) Regulations 1999 (as amended)