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Hundreds of safety, security and safeguarding inspections carried out by UK's nuclear industry regulator during 2021

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has carried out 857 inspections so far this year as part of its work keeping the industry in Great Britain safe and secure.

Figures recently complied by ONR have shown another extremely busy year for the independent regulator with industry standards well maintained, despite the new challenges posed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Statistics have been accumulated up to the start of December, and so offer an accurate snapshot of ONR's activity in 2021, with just four weeks of the year not included in the analysis.

In total, 857 inspections were carried out in 11 months, 570 of those being licence condition inspections, along with 180 from our security and safeguard teams, 52 focusing on transport, and 55 in the area of radiological and conventional health and safety.

Four improvement notices were issued by ONR in 2021, a form of enforcement action to ensure that dutyholders take prompt action to ensure compliance with the law.

In January, Sellafield Ltd was served an improvement notice after a number of electrical safety incidents across the site.

Another was issued to Morgan Sindall Construction and Infrastructure Ltd, in February, after workers came close to striking a live high voltage electric cable during excavation work, in October 2020, at the Sellafield site in Cumbria. The company has since made the necessary improvements and the notice has now been complied with.

And in July, an improvement notice was served on Devonport Royal Dockyard Ltd (DRDL) for shortfalls in health and safety arrangements, specifically risks associated with working at height.

In the last week, another improvement notice was served on Siemens Healthcare Limited after the loss of a package of radiopharmaceuticals while in transit.

Other improvement notices, served in 2020, were complied with during 2021, including one given to Rolls-Royce Submarines Ltd (RRSL).

Three security and nuclear safety directions were issued by ONR in 2021, another formal enforcement tool, and another direction was given to EDF in December 2020, relating to compliance shortfalls with the Pressure System Safety Regulations (2000) at Heysham 1 Power Station in Lancashire, which was complied with this year.

No criminal prosecutions were instigated by the regulator in 2021, although it remains an important tool in holding dutyholders to account for alleged breaches of the law.

This year, ONR dealt with 455 enquiries, which came in the form of general questions, Freedom of Information requests, Parliamentary questions and Environmental Information Requests.

These came in from members of the public, licensees, employees of the sites we regulate, Non-Governmental Organisations, students and academia, industry, local authorities, central government and other public agencies.

The ONR website is typically visited by just under 20,000 users each month, with 80% of them new visitors, from as many as 164 countries around the world, demonstrating ONR's global reach and reputation.

Sarah High, ONR's Deputy Chief Executive, said: "In 2021, despite the unprecedented circumstances associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, ONR has continued to deliver our mission to protect society by securing safe nuclear operations.

"We have also worked to deliver an ambitious modernisation programme and build our capacity and capability to ensure we are fit for the future.

"These figures demonstrate how we influence proportionate improvements that inspire stakeholder confidence with our enabling regulatory approach.

"We always seek to influence, advise and, where necessary, rely on enforcement in a fair and consistent manner and as a highly experienced and respected regulator, we continue to be an active contributor to policy, standards and practice at home and abroad."