Friday, 24 June 2011

MOD response to the ONR interim report Japan - reactor accident

On the 18 May 2011 the Chief Nuclear Inspector published an interim 'lessonslearnt' report early analysis of Japanese accident which made 26 recommendations for UK.

MOD was asked in FOIs about whether or not it made a submission to Dr Weightman `s interim report and how the MOD was responding to the reports' recommendations. The responses to the FOI requests are given below :-

"our correspondence dated 25 May 2011 has been considered to be a request for information in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000. You requested the following information:

"Please could you tell me

a: if MOD made a submission to Dr M Weightman of the ONR in

relation his interim report 'lessons learnt' report "Early analysis of Japanese accident makes 26 recommendations for UK"

b: If a submission was made, please could you provide me with a

copy of the submission"

I am writing to advise you that following a search of our paper and electronic records, I have established that the information you requested is not held by the Ministry of Defence because we did not provide a submission to Dr Weightman of the ONR."

When specifically asked about how MOD was responding to the recommendation 4 of the ONR interim report

"Request for Information – Release of Information under the Freedom of Information Act "Thank you for your request of 18 May 2011 relating to the publication of the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) interim report, in which you ask: Please could you tell me what specific actions the MOD will be taking to implement recommendation 4 of ONR interim report "Japanese earthquake and tsunami: Implications for the UK Nuclear Industry": "Both the UK nuclear industry and ONR should consider ways of enhancing the drive to ensure more open, transparent and trusted communications, and relationships, with the public and other stakeholders."

This enquiry is being treated as a request for information under the terms of the FOI Act. I can confirm that the Department does not hold any information that falls within the scope of your request.""

The MODs' response to these FOI requests provides yet more examples of the MOD failing to engage and learn lessons with a view to improving safety of the nuclear weapon and propulsion programmes.

Friday, 10 June 2011

MOD annual report on Safety, Environmental Protection

MOD has published its annual report on Safety, Environmental Protection andSustainable Development for 2010

As can been seen in the extract below from the DESB 2010 report it appears that
the lessons from the Haddon Cave Review and report have been ignored; in that,
decisions were taken in the SDSR/Defence Reform Review without a proper
consideration of their impact on safety generally and nuclear safety in

"43. SDSR/Defence Reform. The Strategic Defence and Security Review did not,
formally, assess the major implications for the safety of the department and
there has been insufficient time to properly assess the impact of the SDSR
options taken before decisions were made. Therefore the full impact of these
decisions might not be known for a number of years. That said, the major issues
raised by the Front Line Commands regarding wider PR11 options were discussed at
a DESB in January 2011, although timescales prevented a full assessment.

44. It is unclear what impact the Defence Reform Review will have on safety.
However the need to reduce costs and the severe reduction in personnel numbers
will undoubtedly place a severe strain on safety systems. The department must
ensure that mitigation plans are in place to maintain the appropriate standards.
SSD&C is in close discussions with the Reform Review team as to how any outcome
will impact on some of the wider aspects work and Defence safety as a whole."

The part of the report about Defence Nuclear Environment Safety Board (DNESB)
clearly indicates that the ability of MOD's internal Regulator DNSR to do its
job is being compromised by the lack resources to quote from the report "further
aggravated by constraints on regulatory capacity"

"11. The DNESB Chairman reports that an acceptable standard of nuclear and
radiological safety and environmental protection has been maintained in the
operation and delivery of the Defence nuclear programmes. Individually, none of
the DNESB's 8 issues reflect an immediate safety or environmental concern; but
together they represent a potential compromise to compliance or the
demonstrability of compliance and, taken together, they present a risk that it
will become increasingly difficult to maintain that the Defence nuclear
programmes are being managed with due regard for the protection of the
workforce, the public and the environment. The principal threats to safety in
the Defence nuclear programmes in the medium term are the adequacy of resources,
both money and staff complement, and the maintenance of a sustainable cadre of
suitably competent staff (RN, MOD civilians and in industry partners).
Confidence in making the Substantial Assurance judgement is reduced from 2009
due to the adverse trend in resources (which I expect will become yet more
painful), further aggravated by constraints on regulatory capacity.
12. Duty Holders have maintained Continuous at Sea Deterrence (despite
increasing pressures on manpower and some equipment fragility) and have safely
delivered the required military capability from the Submarine Arm despite
reduced platform availability; HMS ASTUTE has become the first new SSN in the
fleet since 1991. 13. The main risks/issues are:

a. Lack of adequate resource to deliver the Defence nuclear programmes safely.

b. Measures already in hand may be insufficient to address the present and
predicted shortage of Nuclear SQEP in the RN among MOD civilians and Defence

c. The frequency and significance of incidents remain too high as a result of
poor control of work."

Associated media reports

Daily Express


The Scotsman

Sunday Post

Caledonian Mercury

Rob Edwards Blog

Milcon R & C blog report on earlier DESB reports

Proposal for a MOD Independent Safety Organisation (ISO) to include the Defence Nuclear Regulator

Proposal for a MOD Independent Safety Organisation (ISO) to include the Defence
Nuclear Regulator.

As can be seen from the reply to a FOI (below) there in the past there was the
post of MOD Chief Safety Officer; former MOD Chief Safety Officer's headed up
the MODs' central safety organisation independent of the duty holders/TLBS. But
the role was abolished and no longer exists. The proposal to re-establish a
Independent Safety Organisation (ISO), seems as if the ISO is the old MOD
central safety organisation reborn !!

The present central organisation Safety, Sustainable Development and Continuity
(SSDC) Division represents the remaining rump of the former central safety
organisation largely denuded of staff with professional experience and
qualifications in safety as demonstrated by the abolition of the post of MOD
Chief Safety Officer whose post holders had qualifications such as PhDs in
physical chemistry and gas explosions with extensive experience in explosives
and ordnance safety.

Implicit in the proposal for a MOD Independent Safety Organisation (ISO) is that
the Defence Nuclear Regulator will be subsumed within it. It would be far better
for public confidence that the HSE etc should regulate MOD controlled nuclear
activities rather than to perpetuate the current system of internal regulation
with its inherent lack of transparency

From the DESB 2010 report

"39. Haddon-Cave Wider Aspects Work The DESB has agreed that some of the issues
raised in the Haddon-Cave report have implications for the wider MOD. These
issues have been translated into seven workstrands, which SSD&C are

40. Chief among these workstrands is an examination of the current regulatory
regimes in place in the department. The examination to date has identified that
many of the existing internal frameworks do not meet the recommendations of the
Haddon-Cave report (principally that regulators should be independent). These
findings have been agreed by the DESB. Subsequently SSD&C has been tasked with
scoping options for a possible Independent Safety Organisation (ISO). This work
is currently focused on establishing the remit of an ISO with a view, if agreed,
to producing a costed organizational option by May 2011. It is hoped that the
ISO, if created, as the single safety regulator in the MOD (bar aviation), will
have a positive impact on the assurance of Departmental safety standards. It
will also be closely involved in the production of future annual assurance

Response to an FOI request asking for details of the post of MOD Chief Safety

DBR-SSDC-Safety Enquiries (MULTIUSER)

Ministry of Defence

1 February 2011

Thank you for your request under the Freedom of Information Act dated 31
December 2010 enquiry asking for details of the post of MOD Chief Safety
Officer, and enquiring after the safety qualifications for the officers who have
held the post.

There is currently no post of MOD Chief Safety Officer. There have been four
members of the senior Civil Service who have had this role (either as Chief
Safety Officer or Chief Environment and Safety Officer) written into their post
description. The titles for the posts were Director of,successively: Directorate
Defence Health and Safety (DDefH&S), Directorate Safety, Environment and Fire
Policy (DSEFPol), and Directorate of Safety and Claims (DS&C). During the last
of these, the role of CESO(MOD) was discontinued. All business areas (eg Army,
Navy, Air Command etc) of MOD do have their own CESO.

As there is no such post, there is no professional safety qualifications
associated with it. Those who held the role as part of their posts had
qualifications such as PhDs in physical chemistry and gas explosions with
extensive experience in explosives and ordnance safety

Monday, 6 June 2011

Contractorisation of nuclear weapon handling etc at RNAD Coulport

Reports in the press ( ref 1 ) indicate that MOD is intending to contractorise the weapon handling work at the RNAD Coulport ( ref 2 )
The “STRATEGIC WEAPON SYSTEM ACTIVITIES FUTURE DELIVERY OPTIONS PROJECT (SWSAFDOP) – SPECIAL TEAM BRIEF No. 002/11 24 May 2011” ( ref 3 ) indicates that “MoD will remain in overall charge, with Naval Base Commander (Clyde) retaining overall responsibility for Nuclear Activities, Explosive Safety Policy, Security and Emergency Management Planning, including retention of the Incident Commander role in response to all contingency scenarios and the role of dual authorisee for the site.”

This is arrangement is dependent on MOD demonstrating that MOD exercises a sufficient degree of control of the work.  Annex A ( ref 3 ) suggests that rather than exercising control the MOD role is surveillance and assurance rather than day to day control of work activities. It is therefore debateable whether MOD exercises sufficient control to be considered “in control of the work”

The proposal for the contractorisation also recalls some years ago a similar and unfortunate situation at Dounreay where it was found that the complex web of relationships for responsibility of safety made it very difficult to understand where responsibility for safety lay and can lead to hazards and risks falling into gaps between the various interfaces between site owner and the various contractors etc. This can lead to failure to address and control the hazards and risks. The potential for confusion is further demonstrated by the reference to “dual authorisee “;  I am not aware of any other licensed/authorised sites where there are two authorisation/license holders.

If contractorisation goes ahead It would be far better at RNAD Coulport to follow the model MOD adopted at AWE ( 4 ) where the site is operated and controlled by a contractor, regulated by ONR  and licensed under the Nuclear Installations Act.


1: or