Decommissioning is a process of dealing with redundant nuclear facilities that have reached the end of its operational life cycle. Its main objectives are:
- Return the nuclear site to an un-restricted, de-licensed condition.
- Return the land to a state that it could be reused for alternative uses.
- Post Operational clean up, where the bulk of radioactive material such as fuel is removed from the facility.
- Initial dismantling & removal of contaminated parts and care and maintenance to allow radioactive materials to decay.
- Dismantling of the facility, demolition of the structure; and remediation of land and water to meet an agreed end-state for future use.
Throughout the decommissioning process, ONR ensures that nuclear licensees adequately control all remaining hazards on site. This is achieved via targeted interventions with licensees who ensure that they have suitable arrangements in place for decommissioning in order to reduce the risks progressively. ONR reviews the arrangement procedures of the licensees for decommissioning and make sure they adopt relevant good practices.
Relevant good practice is reflected in ONR’s guidance notes to its inspectors, which are made publicly available.
Initially all licensees must produce a clear decommissioning strategy that will demonstrate how all redundant, operational & proposed plants can be decommissioned safely at the end of its operational life.
For larger decommissioning projects or projects that involve high nuclear risk, ONR may require the licensee to divide the project into series of sequential stages with every stage set to deliver significant hazard reduction.
Licensees’ ongoing safety & decommissioning performance is assessed through regular site visits & inspections to ensure licensee is making steady progress with decommissioning & ensuring nuclear safety. As a part of decommissioning process, there has to be regular assessment of potential environmental impact of projects to decommissioning nuclear facilities as per Environmental Impact Assessment of Decommissioning Regulations (EIADR).