Skip to main content

AWE Burghfield

Volume 470: debated on Tuesday 15 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 17 December 2007, Official Report, column 1035W, on Atomic Weapons Establishment Burghfield, how many safety shortfalls (a) were identified by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate during the risk assessment, (b) were resolved by the delayed 27 September 2007 target date, (c) will shortly be resolved and (d) will remain unresolved under the current single operation licensing regime imposed by the NII for each warhead handling operation; and if he will make a statement. (177368)

As I indicated in my answer to the hon. Member on 7 January 2008, Official Report, column 28W, the safety case issues in question were identified not by the NII, but by AWE plc in its own Periodic Review of Safety. A total of 1,000 safety shortfalls were identified and these ultimately translated into 337 improvement packages requiring further action. Of these improvement packages, 234 were completed by 27 September 2007 with a further 50 due to be completed by 31 March 2008. The remaining 53 improvement packages are due to be completed by 31 December 2008.

It is important to note that NII has made a full assessment of AWE's Periodic Review of Safety and is satisfied that appropriate progress is being made at AWE Burghfield to address the findings. It is emphasised that, if NII believed a particular operation were unsafe, it would not allow it to take place, and has appropriate regulatory powers at its disposal to cease operations.