International Peer Review of UK Magnox Decommissioning Programme
19 March 2012 | An international peer review of the decommissioning programme of Magnox Ltd, UK, was successfully completed, and the final report was handed over recently to Magnox representatives at the IAEA.
The Bradwell nuclear power plant in Essex, UK, served as the reference site for the review of Magnox’s decommissioning programme. The review process, which started in 2008, included a preliminary site visit, a review of project documentation, and two review meetings held at the Bradwell plant.
To facilitate the peer review, the IAEA set up a review team of six international experts from Canada, Germany, France, Spain, Switzerland and the USA. The IAEA Departments of Nuclear Energy and of Nuclear Safety and Security jointly coordinated the review and contributed with their expertise.
Key Findings and Recommendations of the Peer Review
Magnox has adopted a well-coordinated corporate-wide approach to decommissioning projects, using accelerated entry into care and maintenance at the Bradwell and Trawsfynydd nuclear power plants as models for decommissioning of their remaining sites.
Magnox’s plan that future major projects will be implemented by teams that move from site to site — making best use of experience gained at sites decommissioned earlier — reflects good practice. This approach facilities a more efficient use of the available workforce and may be expected to result in a substantial reduction in overall project costs.
The current policy that the period of care and maintenance may have a total duration of 85 years or more takes advantage of the natural decay of radioactivity contained in the plant and allows for time to establish disposal facilities for long lived radioactive waste.
An early solution for graphite disposal should be actively sought, and all reasonable attempts made to progress with a disposal option for long-lived intermediate level waste, in order to remove these barriers to achieving final site clearance as soon as possible.
Contaminated areas, particularly those near site boundaries, should be well characterised in terms of their extent and the conditions that could result in migration of contamination. If the results of the characterisation differ from current expectations, Magnox should carefully reconsider its planning assumption that contaminated land will remain in situ until final clearance of the site.
The summary report "The Decommissioning Programme of Magnox Limited, United Kingdom, with Bradwell as the Reference Site” details all findings and recommendations of the international peer review.
Magnox Ltd is the nuclear site licensee responsible for 10 nuclear sites and operator of one hydroelectric plant in the UK.
IAEA Review Services: The Agency will initiate a review upon receipt of a Member State request and after determining its suitability. Reviews are carried out by teams of internationally recognized specialists selected by the IAEA, and according to prescribed terms of reference to which all parties agree prior to the review.
The main objectives of international reviews are to provide—on the basis of international safety standards—an independent assessment of the safety of an activity or facility and to assist Member States in improving their performance in the area or operation under review. The benefit of such review for the requesting Member State (or organization) is to obtain independent expert opinion and advice on their proposed programmes and actions and their implementation. It also informs a Member State whether its programme is consistent with good practice in other national programmes.
In the area of radioactive waste management, decommissioning and remediation, over the years, Member States have requested reviews and appraisals in many different areas, e.g. planning, developing and operating waste management facilities, decommissioning nuclear facilities and environmental remediation of contaminated lands.