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Prohibition notice served at AWE nuclear facility following 'depleting oxygen levels'

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A prohibition notice has been placed on the AWE Aldermaston for “depleting oxygen levels” at the facility.

The notice prohibits entry into a part of the Plutonium Technology Centre, which is classified as a “confined space”, unless a safe system of work is in place.

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) announced today (Thursday) that it served the notice on May 26 following a series of engagements with AWE, including an enforcement letter in March 2022.

AWE Aldermaston (53138383)
AWE Aldermaston (53138383)

It has been reported that the reduced oxygen levels in the area are caused by AWE’s operational activities.

These are currently being investigated by AWE as part of ongoing work to ensure that the risks to staff and the public are reduced to “as low as is reasonably practicable”.

The notice is also to ensure the safety of staff at the West Berkshire site.

The ONR said that during engagements with the facility, the site reported events at the facility which showed that there were insufficient arrangements in place to control access to the area with potentially reduced oxygen levels.

It has been reported that there was no harm to staff as a result of the shortfalls identified as well as no risk to the public.

A spokesperson said: “The key purpose of the prohibition notice is to ensure the safety of staff at the facility who carry out work in the confined space.

“The prohibition notice will apply until ONR is satisfied that AWE have resolved the issue regarding potentially depleted oxygen levels in the confined space and it remains safe for staff to work in the area.”

The ONR has said it will engage with AWE to make sure that positive progress is made to comply with the notice.

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