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Capenhurst Nuclear Site Licence document and known safety failures

Date released
3 October 2022
Request number


Release of information under
Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA)

Information requested

Could you please supply a copy of the original accompanying 2012 annexe to this legal document - Public Legal Document Site Licence No. 48E. 

With regard to question 2 (clarification) - could you list all ONR "interventions", including "near misses/critical incidents, since 2012 and their reasoned description including, all matters of chemical nuclear release, liquid, solid or gas. 

Information released

Our Response

We confirm that under s.1 of the FOIA, we hold some of the information relevant to your request.

Part 1

Please find attached a copy of the Urenco UK Capenhurst site boundary (Site licence number 48E). In the document we are releasing, personal data has been redacted. This includes staff names at Urenco UK. Release of this type of information could identify an individual directly. Therefore the personal data has been withheld using the exemption s.40(2)­ of the FOIA.

In particular, release of the information would breach principle (a) of GDPR (lawfulness, fairness and transparency) on the grounds that there is no lawful basis to process this data. In addition, releasing this personal data would also breach principle (b) of GDPR (purpose limitation) as the data was provided as part of their work.

Some information is being withheld under s.24 as it includes sensitive security information that could identify the location of sensitive assets on site, where if compromised, could impact nuclear security. Please see below.

Part 2

In relation to the second part of your request, to be able to process this we need to clarify what specific information you are seeking.

ONR does not routinely collect information on near misses or minor incidents. The management of safety remains the responsibility of the licensee and the recording of events operate on a pyramid principle with the licensee only reporting events to the regulator that meet the reporting criteria.

We therefore suggest that you clarify your request to the terms of site events which meet the reporting criteria to ONR at the Urenco UK Capenhurst site. Further details on this reporting criteria can be found at the following links on our website:

  • Notify ONR
  • Notifying and Reporting Incidents and Events to ONR

We also recommend reducing your timeframe to a maximum of 2 years. Due to the volume and the way the information is held on ONR’s systems, gathering together 10 years of information is likely to involve a cost in excess of the £600 limit set by the government for dealing with Freedom of Information (FOI) requests. We would like to ask you therefore to refine your request to bring it within the appropriate limit. For more information on the cost of compliance, please see the following link:

In considering any further refinement we would also like to alert you to the fact that a considerable proportion of this information is likely to be classed as Sensitive Nuclear Information (SNI) and may fall within s.24 of the FOIA. We routinely publish information about our regulatory activities at the Urenco UK Capenhurst site therefore recommend you consider this information first to help clarify and refine your request. Further information about Urenco UK Capenhurst can be found at the following links:

  • Local Liaison Committee (LLC) and Site Stakeholder Group (SSG) reports -  Each major licensed nuclear site has a liaison committee or stakeholder group, run by the licensee that includes local authorities, trade unions, interested local groups and members of the public. We regularly attend LLCs and SSGs, as observers, to report on our regulation. We also produce, regular reports for these groups about our inspection and regulatory activities relating to licensed nuclear sites, and we make these available to the public as part of our commitment to openness and transparency about our work.
  • Project Assessment Reports (PAR) - A Project Assessment Report (PAR) is a document that presents the case in support of a regulatory decision.
  • Intervention records - Intervention Records are documents that explain what ONR has done on the sites we regulate when we make inspection visits. They also record our findings and any significant actions we require the site operator to carry out in order to improve matters if appropriate.
  • Quarterly statements - These statements provide information  in relation to incidents or events that have occurred at civil nuclear installations in Great Britain, which have met the Ministerial Reporting Criteria.

In addition, it is important to note that ONR does not regulate any kind of releases to the environment in any form (liquid, solid or gas), therefore does not have this information. The Environment Agency regulates releases to the environment in England and their contact details can be found at the following link:

Furthermore, you may wish to consider the Radioactivity in the Environment report produced by DEFRA:

Exemptions applied

s.24, s.40

PIT (Public Interest Test) if applicable

Part 1

Some information is being withheld under s.24 as it includes sensitive security information that could identify the location of sensitive assets on site, where if compromised, could impact nuclear security. This exemption applies where withholding the information requested is required for the purposes of safeguarding national security. It works to protect national security, which includes protection of potential targets. It allows a public authority not to disclose information if it considers releasing the information would make the UK or its citizens more vulnerable to a national security threat.

As this is a qualified exemption, we are required to balance the public interest between disclosure and non-disclosure. We have therefore applied the Public Interest Test, as set out below:

S.24 FOIA – Safeguarding national security

Factors for disclosure

  • ONR is committed to being an open and transparent regulator. We will use openness and transparency to achieve our objective of developing and maintaining stakeholder
  • trust in ONR as an effective independent regulator.
  • Issues related to the nuclear industry are subject to close scrutiny and debate, there is a public interest in information related to nuclear activities and the release of such information.

Factors against disclosure

  • There is a strong public interest in safeguarding national security. Disclosure of detailed information about the site may compromise national security by revealing locations and building information to individuals who may be involved in terrorism, and may assist them in carrying out threats or attacks against ONR’s dutyholders and the nuclear industry.
  • Adversaries or hostile actors can be highly motivated and may go to great lengths to gather separate pieces of intelligence to attempt to expose vulnerabilities.
  • ICO guidance for s.24 (1) makes it clear that there need be no evidence that an attack is imminent for this exemption to be applied.


After careful consideration of the factors set out above, ONR has concluded that the information should be withheld. On balance, the interests of national security outweigh the need for openness in terms of the specific information that you have requested. There is a strong public interest in safeguarding national security. Therefore, it is our judgement that publication of the information requested would not be in the public interest.