Sellafield Instills Lessons Learned from Fukushima

Learning from the Fukushima event has played a major part in a new `fit for purpose’ initiative which aims to remove barriers and ensure emergency robustness in the event of a Fukushima type power loss at the Sellafield site.

Lessons were learned following the devastating events in 2011, one of the most valuable being the lack of back-up systems in the event of a complete power loss on a nuclear licensed site.

Sellafield Ltd has risen to the challenge and has already implemented many improvements to enable the site to run independently should a similar scenario ever be faced.

A key part of this is the ability to source, quickly and efficiently emergency equipment and resources as and when required, which until now has proved challenging.

Joe Sullivan, Site Resilience and Emergency Enhancement (SR&E) head of technical explained, “Rapid procurement of emergency kit is a priority for the programme, however we found that for every item we needed it required a 25 step process from sourcing to actually being able to use the item in question. Being able to put our hands on what we needed, as soon as we needed it was our goal.”

To that end, the SR&E team looked for a `fit for purpose’ solution that would not only break down the timescales but could stand independently of the Sellafield infrastructure to enable its continued operation in the event of a total loss of power. This was achieved with a relatively low cost solution know as WASP.

“WASP is an off the shelf inventory management system which allows responders to locate kit, quickly via a simple hand held device,” explained Steve Lightfoot, pre-operations manager, Emergency Management Improvement and Resilience Programme. “ Through a simple bar code system, responders can identify, source and use the item within minutes as opposed to months.

“We looked into the cost of updating existing site systems to enable us to do this, however the costs would have been in excess of £100,000, whereas, this system has cost us £5,000 and gives us the added benefit of being non-independent of the Sellafield infrastructure, so if the power goes down, this system will still work, enabling us to get what we need as soon as possible.”

The initial concept was taken to the G6 Engine Room for endorsement and following a number of discussions G6 agreed to the initiative going ahead and approved the request for a purchase card to enable commercial off-the-shelf purchases.

Paul Foster, Sellafield Ltd Managing Director commented, “This is precisely what the G6 ethos is all about, identifying the crucial outcomes that enable risk and hazard reduction and removing barriers. We must all look for ways to accelerate progress in the most cost effective manner, and this is a simple but very effective example of how that can be done.”