• December 23, 2015


Now there’s you thinking the only ‘nuclear nasties’ adjacent to us were either at Sellafield with its cracked ponds and iffy drainage or Heysham with its creaky old power station which is having the ‘service life’ rung out of it to keep the United Kingdoms lights on at the moment.

Well you’re wrong, there’s another facility regulated by the UK HSE Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) just across from us in Barrow.

It is Devonshire dock where they work on those new submarines the ones powered by nuclear reactors.

Twelve months ago ONR issued what they call an ‘improvement notice’ on BAe which runs Devonshire which has just run out.

It would seem that the improvement level is not satisfactory for ONR but ‘what the hell’ this is the zany world of British Nuclear Regulation so they have just issued a three month extension (see press release):

“ONR grants extension to BAE Systems Marine Ltd

9 December, 2015

The Office for Nuclear Regulation has agreed a three-month extension to an Improvement Notice served on licensee BAE Systems Marine Ltd last year relating to its Devonshire Dock Complex site in Barrow-in-Furness.

ONR issued the Improvement Notice in December 2014 following the failure to demonstrate that only suitably qualified and experienced persons perform any duties which may affect the safety of operations on the site or any other duties required under the nuclear site licence conditions.

ONR has closely monitored the work to comply with the Improvement Notice and considers that the licensee has undertaken a fundamental analysis of the issues raised and a significant amount of work to deliver both compliance with the Improvement Notice itself and greater alignment with our regulatory expectations for other relevant licence conditions.

The extension of the Improvement Notice compliance date to 31 March 2016 will enable the licensee to provide us with an adequate demonstration of its revised arrangements and ensure that these arrangements align with its wider organisational change programme.

Until we consider that the Improvement Notice has been complied with, we will continue to ensure that the licensee has mitigations in place to ensure safety and manage and control risk associated with any gaps.”
Now you will see from paragraph three that its not all doom and gloom and BAe have made progress to address ONR concerns.

However it would seem from the last paragraph that ONR are saying and if you’re ‘really naughty’ and don’t improve further we’ll give you another extension to your improvement notice. Is this how nuclear regulation is supposed to work?

Meanwhile over in Mann we’ve got Ministers, Cabinet Offices and all sorts of Senior Civil servants on gold plated salaries and I bet they don’t even know that ONR had these ‘safety’ concerns about Barrow?

Still we’ve got Civil Defence – oh hang on they didn’t prove much use in the floods – so as for anything nuclear forget it!!

NOTE: There is a link here to the HSE ONR web site. The NEWS and RESOURCES SECTIONS in particular are useful for keeping an eye on what is happening at nuclear facilities close to us regulated by ONR.


Photograph: Devonshire Dock Hall Barrow – where they make those nice nuclear submarines.

Issued by: The Celtic News



The Celtic League established in 1961 has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It promotes cooperation between the countries and campaigns on a range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, military activity and socio-economic issues


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