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IRRS mission highlights progress in nuclear and radiation safety in the UK

The United Kingdom is committed to delivering the highest standards of nuclear and radiation safety, an international mission has found.

The seven-day International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Integrated Regulatory Review Service’s (IRRS) follow-up mission, to evaluate the country’s regulatory infrastructure against required global safety standards, came to a close earlier this week.

The team studied progress from a full scope mission in 2019 when assessments of the UK’s nuclear and radiological safety standards were carried out.

Ramzi Jammal, acting Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, said this week in his initial report: “The IRRS team concluded that the staff of the participating UK authorities showed a strong commitment and professionalism in carrying out their mandate to ensure that nuclear and radiation safety is implemented safely in the UK."

The country’s follow-up mission response has been coordinated by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, and was held in the Office for Nuclear Regulation’s (ONR) Bootle office in Merseyside.

The IRRS team, comprised of seven senior regulatory experts from seven IAEA Member States, three IAEA staff members, and one observer from Canada, liaised with 15 regulatory bodies and several government departments.

ONR’s response was coordinated by a team led by Alistair Hillery, Head of Regulatory Intelligence and Oversight, who said: “We’re delighted that the IRRS team recognised the strong commitment and professionalism from all UK regulatory bodies involved in the review and the significant progress made in response to the 2019 findings.

“We are particularly pleased that, as a result of the evidence we provided, they have closed all outstanding actions on ONR from the 2019 mission.”

The mission also praised two specific areas of ONR ‘Good Performance’, with its Policy on Openness and Transparency, and the independent and transparent assessment of its culture, commissioned by ONR and delivered by the Alliance Manchester Business School.

Anna Hajduk Bradford, Director of the IAEA Division of Nuclear Installation Safety, said: "This comprehensive review underscores the commitment of the UK to enhancing its nuclear and radiation safety measures.

“I commend the UK for requesting the mission.”

Read more about the IRRS follow-up mission’s initial findings here: IAEA Mission Sees Progress in Nuclear and Radiation Safety in the United Kingdom, Notes Areas for Improvement | IAEA

The full IAEA report is expected to be published later this year.