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NDA Strategy Document
We published our revised Strategy in March 2011.
NDA Strategy - Effective from April 2011 (full colour version) (5Mb)
For more information see Our Strategy
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Site Safety and Environmental Performance
Find out more about NDA Sites' Performance, visit our Site Safety and Environmental Performance section.
The Nuclear Legacy
Origins of the Legacy
The UK's historic nuclear legacy comprises:
- nuclear sites and facilities operated by the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) and British Nuclear Fuels plc (BNFL); the wastes, materials and spent fuels they produced between the 1940s and 1960s; and
- the Magnox fleet of nuclear power stations designed and built in the 1950s, 60s and 70s and operated on the Government's behalf by BNFL; plant and facilities at Sellafield used for the reprocessing of Magnox fuel; and all associated wastes and materials.
In total, we are responsible for:
- 39 reactors (gas, water and metal cooled);
- 5 fuel reprocessing plants;
- 3 fuel fabrication plants;
- 1 redundant enrichment plant; and
- 5 nuclear laboratory complexes.
Our role is to work in partnership with regulators, Site Licence Companies (SLCs) and their Parent Body Organisations (PBOs) to ensure sites are decommissioned and cleaned-up, and waste is disposed of.
A Pressing Environmental Issue
The nature of the decommissioning process means these facilities can’t simply be switched off and knocked down. In fact, the technical, environmental and managerial challenges are considerable. Many sites and facilities were not designed with eventual decommissioning in mind and were built and used at a time when regulatory requirements and operational priorities were very different.
The sites and facilities in question were once important sources of research or power generation, but the nuclear legacy is now a major public liability. It is estimated to be worth around £50 billion (discounted). We cannot ignore the issues; the nuclear industry’s legacy must be addressed as a matter of urgency. That is the role of the NDA.
What are the Challenges?
One of the biggest difficulties we face is the limited information we have for a number of legacy facilities. For instance, some do not have detailed inventories of waste. Some lack reliable design drawings. Many were one-off projects, built as experiments to test new approaches and ideas. Therefore the challenge is often not how to tackle a particular task, but rather deciding what the task is. This is known as scoping.
How will the Challenges be Tackled?
Some of the technical issues will require advances in science and technology before they can be dealt with, and to this end we have an dynamic R&D programme in place.
We are actively promoting innovative approaches to decommissioning and looking at successful methods in other countries.
There can be no compromise in meeting safety, security and environmental standards. We will work within the strict regulatory framework, ensuring that the nuclear legacy is managed in a way that fully protects workers, the public and the environment.
We are committed not only to compliance with the letter of the law relating to these issues, but also to delivery of the spirit of the law. This is reflected especially in meeting Government targets set in respect of HSE’s Revitalising Health and Safety and the cross-Government initiative Securing Health Together.
We work with our contractors and the Regulators in such a way that, having agreed with our contractors what can be done, and by when, we don’t dictate how things will be done in respect of HSSE-related activities.
The ‘how’ is the absolute responsibility of the Site Licence Company (SLC), but it is important that we agree some method of monitoring the performance of our contractors effectively. To this end in consultation with our contractors we have jointly developed a set of metrics to measure safety and environmental performance in a consistent way. By having the ability to identify declining performance trends, we can then discuss appropriate action with the Regulators and our contractors to improve things.
Our intention is to ensure that all our contractors deliver sustained excellence in nuclear safety, industrial health and safety, security and the protection of the environment. The delivery of our decommissioning and clean-up programmes will not be at the expense of any of these crucial factors.
We are responsible for operating a number of nuclear facilities, including four Magnox power stations, fuel fabrication plants and spent fuel reprocessing complexes. By about 2012, most of them will have ceased to operate. Final decisions on plant closures, or the acceptance of new contracts extending their lives, are ultimately for Government to make, albeit with our advice.