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Welcome presentation to IRRS mission entrance meeting, Bootle

Judith Hackitt CBE, HSE Chair, 5 October 2009

Good morning.

I'm Judith Hackitt, Chair of the Health and Safety Executive, which is the overarching body of the UK Nuclear Directorate, and I just want to say a few opening remarks.

(address the IRRS Mission)

It really is good to be here today, and I'd like to extend a very warm welcome to the IAEA Integrated Regulatory Review Service team on behalf of the UK Government, HSE and Nuclear Directorate. I would also like to welcome the members of the team, who were part of the first mission in April 2006, back to Redgrave Court.

(address ND and HSE team members)

I, and others here today, understand the pressures placed on some Member States by the "nuclear renaissance", in addition to normal business, plant ageing, decommissioning, and the difficult issue of managing radioactive waste. But it is important for team members tom give up their time to contribute to the mission. Even though you're all so busy dealing with the day-to-day demands of nuclear regulation, your interest and commitment really is appreciated – thank you – and I am confident we will all gain benefit from the process.

(address all)

Nuclear safety is clearly an international matter and we in the UK are committed to supporting the concept of a global safety regime, through binding legal instruments such as the Convention on Nuclear Safety, and participating in other international agreements and multi-lateral initiatives, many through the auspices of IAEA.

The current mission is the second of a planned series of 4 IRRS modular missions, which follow-up the findings from 3 years ago, and reviews new areas, such as:

(address the IRRS Mission)

I think you will find that a good deal of change is already underway in Nuclear Directorate. Much has changed during the 3 years since the last review. I know that HSE and Nuclear Directorate staff are looking forward to discussing all aspects of nuclear safety regulation and will welcome your contribution to improve our current and evolving arrangements.  The peer review that your mission provides will certainly help. We will be able to benefit from the experience to help improve wherever we can. And, in return, I hope that we can provide a better understanding of the UK approach to regulation of nuclear safety.

This is a time of considerable change for Nuclear Directorate, both in terms of structure and culture, and you will hear much more about this from Dr Weightman and his team during the mission and from Geoffrey Podger and myself.  In brief, the government is progressing the move of Nuclear Directorate into a more autonomous public body, called a Statutory Corporation, but which will continue under the auspices of HSE. The intent is to create greater autonomy, retain its independence as a regulator, and retain other benefits which result from remaining within the Health and Safety Executive umbrella.

We are working together to ensure that the transition to the new organisation will include the improvements we identified from your visit in 2006, from our self-assessment report, and from your planned missions. I look forward to a successful outcome to help us in our "mission" to confirm Nuclear Directorate, and its successor organisation, as an exemplar in the field of nuclear safety regulation.   

Thanks for listening and I am sure you are all looking forward to the rest of the day as much as I am.

I'd now like to hand over to the Director of Nuclear Directorate and the Chief Inspector of nuclear installations, Dr Weightman.

Updated 2009-12-10