There are currently 17 nuclear sites in England, Wales and Scotland that are in the process of being decommissioned and cleaned up, and more will be coming in soon. Many of these are now entering the final stage of the decommissioning process, and the government is looking to make this a somewhat more flexible process which they hope will enhance the environmental gains while reducing the overall bill. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has launched a consultation on this.
What Is the Consultation Suggesting?
One of the proposals is that the regulations around decommissioning are changed to allow operators holding the special licences that are needed to be freed from the licensing regime once the site is recognised as safe and secure by international and national standards.
Regulation of the site would then pass to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and one of the environment agencies, leaving the specialist nuclear regulators more time to oversee those sites still in need of their expertise.
There would still be a pretty stringent regulatory regime because the site would then become subject to the normal rules for non-nuclear sites, and these are themselves very robust and detailed, as anyone who has ever ordered a tank decommissioning project from http://www.ashremediation.co.uk/tank-decommissioning/ will know.
One of the reasons for the consultation is that the government feels that the licence holder should work with the local community to find out what end-state people want for the site. There’s a feeling that this will result in better waste management outcomes, though the government paper is somewhat vague about how this mechanism will deliver the improvements.
The OECD recently brought in a couple of decisions on decommissioning nuclear sites which concerned the way that some sites are excluded from the regime. The organisation wants to tighten up on the licence surrender process so that an operator surrendering a licence would have to consult with the Office for Nuclear Regulation and they in turn would have talk to the HSE.
The government feels that the new proposals will simplify the licensing regime and encourage operators to set up waste disposal on the sites they are remediating. This will cut down on waste transport and prevent green field sites elsewhere being used.
make this a somewhat more flexible process which they hope will enhance the environmental gains while reducing the overall bill. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has launched a consultation on this.