Caroline Winstanley, Deputy Professional Lead for Internal Hazards at the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), will be providing an overview of the insights from the recent topical peer review (TPR) and the recommendations that follow.

The European Union’s (EU) Nuclear Safety Directive requires the member states to organise a topical peer review (TPR) every six years. The UK participated in the first TPR, which started in 2017 as a member of the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG). After leaving the EU, the UK is now an observer country at ENSREG and was invited to voluntarily participate in the second TPR, which covers fire protection in nuclear installations. The first stage of the peer review was for each participant country to produce a national assessment report (NAR).

The scope of this TPR extends to nuclear power plants and research reactors, spent fuel storage facilities, enrichment plants, nuclear fuel fabrication plants, reprocessing plants, and storage facilities for radioactive waste that are on the same site and are directly related to the aforementioned types of nuclear installations. The technical specification allowed for a selection from all the installation types in scope and all stages in the lifecycle including construction, operation and decommissioning rather than reporting on all qualifying installations. It also expected focus on installations presenting significant radiological risks from fire, and the consideration of similarities across installations for transferability of insights when selecting the installations for inclusion. 

The UK NAR covered fire protection relating to the nuclear power plants at Heysham 2, Hunterston B and Sizewell B and those under construction at Hinkley Point C; Dounreay’s Prototype Fast Reactor Complex (including the irradiated Fuel Cave); enrichment facilities at Capenhurst, fuel fabrication plants at Springfields; and Sellafield Ltd.’s Magnox reprocessing plant. Finally, a selection of Sellafield Ltd.’s other facilities were also included.

The report describes each licensee’s fire safety assessment methodologies, and implementation of the fire protection concept, including fire prevention measures and active and passive fire protection. ONR assessed the licensees’ self-assessments referencing UK regulatory requirements and expectations, which implement international standards for fire protection in nuclear installations, nuclear fire safety and internal hazards. ONR also used intelligence from regulating fire safety from a life protection perspective, and identified useful transferable learning to nuclear safety, namely the importance of proactive management of fire detection and alarm system ageing and obsolescence, and maintainability of fire protection systems such as fire dampers. 

Overall, ONR’s assessment found that the UK installations have adequate fire safety analysis and fire protection arrangements commensurate with their radiological risks from fire and the potential for fire to impact nuclear safety systems. Nevertheless, improvements have been identified; the implementation of methodologies for proportionate but systematic screening and analysis of hazard combinations, including fire, and the enhancement of linkages between the extant management of fire loading for life protection and the nuclear safety arrangements in decommissioning facilities. This presentation will provide an overview of the insights from TPR and the recommendations that follow.

About the speaker:

Caroline Winstanley is an Internal Hazards Principal Inspector and the Deputy Professional Lead for Internal Hazards in the Nuclear Internal Hazards and Site Safety specialism in the Office for Nuclear Regulation. Caroline spent nearly 30 years working in the nuclear industry within radiological safety for Sellafield Ltd, writing safety cases, leading teams of hazard analysts, chairing HAZOPs and developing the internal hazards topic as the organisation’s subject matter expert. Caroline joined the ONR Internal Hazards team over four years ago and is now an internal hazards lead in the New Reactors sub-division and the deputy lead for ONR on the ENSREG Topical Peer Review 2 whose focus was fire protection in nuclear installations.