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Law BURGES SALMON


NUCLEAR REGULATION: WHERE TO START?


Words: Gareth Davies and Michael Freeman, Burges Salmon


Safety Liability Safeguards U


ntil the Chernobyl accident in 1986, although important conventions did exist, nuclear legal matters were perhaps incorrectly regarded as predominantly matters for the jurisdiction of individual states. That changed as a result of the significant trans-boundary consequences of Chernobyl.


Conventions were introduced or strengthened in a number of areas, including emergency preparedness and response, safety of nuclear power plants, radioactive waste management, and nuclear liability. These areas fit in with a ‘3SL’ regulatory approach, which the UK has adopted in its legislation governing the regulation of civil nuclear programmes. The synergies and overlaps between the constituent parts of 3SL are best illustrated above.


In the UK, there is myriad of national legislation which has been adopted to both reflect and enhance the international regimes in our own domestic regulatory system. This brief article does not attempt to address all the applicable legislation and regulation, but instead aims to give a broad overview of some of the key legislation applying to UK civil nuclear sites. Much of the recent regulatory reorganisation in the UK has reflected the 3SL approach to nuclear law.


Site licensing and liability


Probably the most important piece of this legislation, which regulates UK nuclear installations, is the Nuclear Installations Act 1965 (NIA).


all nuclear installations in the UK are required to hold, and adhere to the conditions of, a nuclear site licence


The NIA implements the nuclear liability regimes that are established by the Paris Convention on Third Party Liability in the Field of Nuclear Energy 1960 and the Brussels Supplementary Convention on Nuclear Third Party Liability 1963, and therefore governs the liability of UK nuclear site operators to third parties for damage caused by a nuclear occurrence or during the transport of radioactive material.


The principal way in which the international liability regime is implemented is through the system of licensing. In order to operate lawfully, all nuclear installations in the UK are required to hold, and adhere to the conditions of, a nuclear site licence. Failure to do so is a criminal offence under the


NIA. Nuclear site licences are obtained from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), although in practice the licensing function of the HSE is performed by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR).


The NIA requires the HSE/ONR to attach conditions to nuclear site licences. There are currently 36 standard licence conditions; some impose specific duties on the licensee, whereas others more broadly require certain arrangements to be put in place, but all conditions highlight particular areas that the licensee must address in order to ensure the safe operation and maintenance of the site.


Health and safety


The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA) places all employers in the UK (including those in the nuclear sector) under a general legal duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that employees are not exposed to health and safety risks as a result of activities undertaken in the course of employment. Various sets of regulations have been enacted under the HSWA, including the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, which include an obligation on employers to carry out suitable and sufficient risk assessments for workplace activities.


è NuclearCONNECT 53 Security


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