UK gets new and improved nuclear regulator-updated1 April 2014 by Will Dalrymple
The UK civil nuclear regulator, Office for Nuclear Regulation, is reborn today as a public corporation independent of central government, with a new logo, new responsibilities for its management team and a new mission statement.
In addition to monitoring existing nuclear power plants, Sellafield, and design assessments of new nuclear designs, the new organization also has responsibility for the transport and safeguarding of nuclear and radioactive materials, a role executed by the Department for Transport until 2012. It still does not regulate nuclear aspects of the military: that remains the job of the Defence Nuclear Safety Regulator.
The organization is conscious of its newness, and is using the opportunity to review how it works. In particular, it is reviewing its nuclear safety regulatory framework (nuclear licence conditions) to 'ensure it remains fit for purpose for the modern nuclear environment', to finish at the end of 2016.
It said it would be conducting a 'fundamental review' of its regulatory approach to Sellafield, whose improvement it said was a national priority, but had 'many years of slower-than-ideal progress to address hazard reduction. With regard to removing stored fuel and activated materials from the legacy ponds and silos, it said "ONR will provide even greater challenge in this area through a targeted combination of advocacy, influencing and holding to account via the proportionate use of legal powers."
The ONR's new mission statement is, "To provide efficient and effective regulation of the nuclear industry, holding it to account on behalf of the public."
John Jenkins (businessman, civil engineer) is chief executive officer, Andy Hall (astrophysicist and regulator since 1998) is chief nuclear inspector, Les Philpott (chartered accountant, civil servant) is deputy chief executive officer, Nick Baldwin (formerly chief executive of Powergen) is chairman of an eight-member board of directors.
As part of the new public sector organization, Jenkins has now become ONR's accounting officer, accountable to UK Parliament, and Hall is directly accountable to Parliament for all regulatory decisions.