NDA email response to Colin Wales following his FOI request

From: judith.Griffin@nda.gov.uk
To: colin_wales@hotmail.com
Subject: 20140242 – NDA response 2
Date: Tue, 20 Jan 2015 10:52:50 +0000


Dear Mr Wales

I apologise for the delay. Set out below are our responses to the outstanding queries plus the attached report as requested:

1.     We would seek detailed information on the ponds, specifically an independent structural engineers report as to the integrity of these facilities.

Pile Fuel Storage Pond (PFSP) – Independent structural surveys are carried out annually by our independent Specialist Contractor. There have been no defects to report to date. The pond does have “shrinkage cracks” which are monitored on a routine basis. These cracks do not raise cause for concern and, as mentioned previously, there has been no observed leakage to date and monitoring of the sumps and monitoring chambers is done on a routine basis.

First Generation Magnox Storage Pond (FGMSP) – Structural surveys are carried out on an annual basis by our independent Specialist Contractor. The pond does have cracks which are monitored on a routine basis, this includes a monthly visual inspection of selected cracks by our independent Specialist Contractor. These cracks do not affect the primary safety function of the structure. As mentioned previously, a liquor balance model is routinely maintained and this shows losses to be within the expected range for evaporation from the pond surface.

4.     What policies and processes currently exist to mitigate any of the risks which have been identified by any responsible executive body e.g. ONR, NDA, other governmental executive bodies, Sellafield Sites Ltd and NMP, together with any concerns expressed by any independent accredited institution e.g. Institute of Civil Engineers?

The independent nuclear regulator, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) undertakes regular planned inspections of the facilities at Sellafield, including the legacy ponds, to ensure that the licensee is operating the facilities safely and that there are adequate provisions to protect the health, safety and security of the public and its workforce.  ONR inspectors use ONR’s Safety Assessment Principles, together with supporting Technical Assessment Guides, which are published on the ONR website along with reports of ONR’s inspections and regulatory decisions. The ONR website also provides information on the legal framework and the conditions attached to the Nuclear Site Licence.

As part of these arrangements, both FGMSP & PFSP use a risk management process to capture and manage risk, regardless of the source of the risk. This drives our mitigation plans accordingly. The risk of the structure being able to maintain its integrity through to the completion of retrieval operations is managed as part of the system health process whereby a dedicated System Engineer is responsible for reviewing the health of the facility and initiating/managing improvement works throughout the life of the structure.

In addition to this, in accordance with the requirements of the Nuclear Site Licence, the FGMSP Programme has a Leak Mitigation Strategy which is periodically reviewed and updated and has been acknowledged by the Environmental Agency.  This details the mitigation activities carried out by the Programme.

Your request has been handled under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004. In relation to the attached report, (where you see r.13 in the report text) we have withheld some “personal information” (applicable exception reg. 13 Environmental Information Regulations 2004) i.e. names of individuals, information that could identify individuals. We have also withheld (where you see r.12(5)(a) in the report text) “security sensitive” information, relating to specific buildings, locations and plant (applicable exception Reg. 12(5)(a) Environmental Information Regulations 2004).

In applying these exceptions we have considered the “Public interest” and concluded that it would not be in the public interest to release information that would infringe the rights of data subjects or breach the principles of the Data Protection Act. It would also not be in the ”Public Interest” to release exploitable security information which could be detrimental to site security.

If you are unhappy with the way your request for information has been handled, you can request the NDA carry out an internal review (contact: enquiries@nda.gov.uk).

If you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request or complaint you have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioner at:

Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF


Judith Griffin

Information Access Manager


Tel. 01925 802077

Mob. 07713 072 700

NDA, Herdus House, Westlakes Science & Technology Park, Moor Row, CA24 3HU.

The full heavily redacted report pdf