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Maintaining nuclear safety during a pandemic

Event organised by Hazards Forum

15 July 2020

This event has now ended

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For some duty-holders, nuclear operations can be put into a quiescent safe state, whereas for others it is more complex. In 1987 Karl Weick, writing in the California Management Review, proposed that “reliability is a dynamic non-event”: safety does not necessarily result from stability but rather from successfully managing continuous change.

33 years later this notion is well understood by Sellafield Ltd who have operations which must continue for hazard and risk reduction to be sustained. The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) also considers hazard and risk reduction at the Sellafield site to be one of its strategic priorities. In March 2020 as the lockdown was imposed and it became increasingly clear that the crisis was unprecedented in our lifetimes, how did these organisations respond?

The presentations will explore these challenges from the perspectives of both Sellafield Ltd, the duty-holder responsible for ensuring nuclear safety and the health and wellbeing of their workforce at the Sellafield site, and the ONR, the regulator whose mission it is to hold the nuclear industry to account on behalf of the public.

We will explore questions such as: How did Sellafield Ltd decide what could be safely shut down and what must continue? How did it balance nuclear safety with protecting the health and wellbeing of its workforce? How did it ensure its decisions were robust and subject to appropriate scrutiny? How did ONR wrestle with the notion of being able to effectively regulate the nuclear industry during a lockdown? How can regulatory activities be carried out remotely and are these effective? How does ONR balance its public duty to the hold industry to account with its duty to protect the health and wellbeing of its staff?

As the sense of the timescales that we’ll be living with Covid-19 are now becoming clearer the presentations will also consider what the ‘new normal’ will look like and how each organisation is adapting and shaping itself in response.

Organised by

The Hazards Forum

The Hazards Forum

The Hf provides a focus for the study of natural and man-made disasters, dissemination of lessons learned and promotion of risk reduction strategies.

For more information please contact:

Elira Alushi