A FORMER nuclear power station in Somerset has replaced and upgraded some of its assets after an inspection from the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR).

Hinkley Point A, located near Burnham-on-Sea and Bridgwater, stopped generating power in 2000 and is being decommissioned. 

The hazards and risks are much lower at Hinkley Point A than other nuclear sites inspected by the ONR because it has been defuelled.

However, there is still a radiological risk that must be managed during this phase of its life and its facilities must be maintained for health and safety reasons.

The ONR carried out a two-day inspection at the station in October 2021.

The inspectors' report says Magnox Limited, which is decommissioning the station, is “being proactive in making ageing facilities more efficient on the Hinkley Point A site”.

Some shortfalls were identified by the inspectors during their visit, which Magnox Limited is addressing under a new Strategic Asset Management Plan. 

This includes the management of some assets linked to the stability of the reactor pressure vessel that are “inaccessible” and had not been recently inspected.

Bridgwater Mercury: Two new nuclear reactors are under construction at Hinkley Point C.Two new nuclear reactors are under construction at Hinkley Point C. (Image: Steve Richardson)

Inspectors also highlighted “the ingress of water through roofing and other structures” in several areas and a lack of formal arrangements for “knowledge capture and management”, leading to some people leaving without their knowedge being retained.

The management of the facility's ageing security assets was reviewed by the inspectors.

They found Magnox Limited had not yet fully integrated ageing security assets into its arrangements and “the management of security assets is not yet fully understood”.

The report concludes: “Overall, the inspection team found Magnox Limited’s arrangements for the management of its ageing facilities to be adequate at Hinkley Point A and proportionate to the low hazard and risk posed by the defuelled reactors.

“Whilst the arrangements were found to be adequate, some shortfalls were identified.

“The inspection team saw that Magnox Limited was aware of the challenges that it faces and have seen demonstrable improvements from the station to meet these challenges and strengthen their arrangements for managing their ageing facilities.

“To ensure that arrangements are sustainable, Magnox Limited must continue to be self-aware and proactive in addressing challenges.

“In particular, Magnox Limited should commit to fully integrating security into the ageing management arrangements, and ensure that process and capability are in place to support management of security assets.”

A spokesperson for Magnox Limited said: “We welcome the ONR report and its recognition of our work to proactively manage assets on our sites.

“Since this report, Magnox has developed a Strategic Asset Management Plan and has attained ISO55001 (Asset Management) certification.

“There is a continuous programme of asset care work already underway at Hinkley Point A, this ensures our facilities are safe, secure and fit for future use.

“Since this inspection, we have replaced and upgraded assets on our Hinkley Point site, including repairs to the roofs and other assets where water damage/leaks had occurred.

“Where assets are inaccessible, we take data from nearby assets in similar conditions and environments to give an indication of performance and are always looking for new technologies to assist with this work and make improvements.

“All our assets will continue to be monitored by Magnox, with oversight from our regulators, to ensure we continue to operate safely, securely, and compliantly.”