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Second Topical Peer Review on fire safety published

The UK has concluded the self-assessment phase for the second Topical Peer Review (TPR 2) on fire protection at nuclear installations.

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) is coordinating the UK’s involvement in TPR 2, which is overseen by the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG).

The European Union’s (EU) revised Nuclear Safety Directive requires member states to undertake national assessments every six years on a specific nuclear safety topic selected by ENSREG, followed by a peer review by other member states.

Following the UK’s departure from the EU, the UK is now an observer at ENSREG and decided to voluntarily take part in TPR 2.

The first stage of the process is for each participant country to produce a national assessment report that is used in the later stages of the peer review.

The UK’s report includes input from licensees spanning decommissioning, operating and new build reactors, incorporating a range of different types of installations including storage facilities, enrichment plants and reprocessing plants.

When selecting which nuclear installations should feature in the assessment, ONR considered those which presented significant radiological risks from fire, as well as reflecting on how insights from the assessment could be transferred between different installations.

The report includes a description from each participant licensee of how they assess fire safety and implement fire protection, followed by ONR’s regulatory assessment, which references UK and international standards.

The ONR team involved in coordinating the UK's national assessment report for TPR 2.

ONR has also taken transferable insights from our regulation of life fire safety (controlling the risks that fire might pose directly to people on nuclear sites) and integrated them into the report where appropriate.

These insights include fire damper maintainability considerations, and the importance of addressing fire detection and alarm system obsolescence.

ONR has concluded that the UK installations included in TPR 2 have appropriate fire safety analysis and fire protection arrangements commensurate with their radiological risks from fire and the potential for fire to impact nuclear safety systems, taking into consideration the stage that each installation had reached within its lifecycle.

Nevertheless, a number of potential areas for improvement have been identified, namely, implementing methodologies for systematic analysis of hazards combinations and enhancing the links between management of fire loading for life protection and nuclear safety in decommissioning facilities.

ONR has raised actions for the licensees to implement improvements.

The next stage of TPR 2 in 2024 will involve ENSREG’s public consultation and expert peer reviews of the national reports, after which further action plans will be developed.

Diego Lisbona, ONR’s Professional Lead for Nuclear Internal Hazards and Site Safety, and project lead for TPR 2, said: “The publication of the UK’s national assessment report for TPR 2 culminates the efforts of licensees and the ONR assessment team during the last 12 months. We are grateful to all involved for their contributions.

“The report offers valuable insights on fire protection from a representative selection of nuclear installations across Great Britain and has resulted in beneficial improvements being identified.

“We look forward to playing our part in the international peer review phase, assessing reports by other European countries and welcoming insights and learning from their review of the UK report.”