NDA is set to embark on a significant programme to sift through and organise all the information in its estate, ensuring the vast amounts of material are stored securely and safeguarded for future generations.
When the NDA was established in 2005, it inherited all the assets across the estate, including valuable information accrued over many decades and held in a multitude of formats at numerous locations. As a Government body, the NDA is responsible for ensuring the material is preserved and made available in line with legislation and regulations on public information.
‘Information’ covers a wide range of material, ranging from archived operational records and plant designs to graphics, photographs, publications, digital records, patents, research documents, etc.
The Information Governance Programme will also require, the safeguarding of sensitive material, the retention of records, the duplication and/or destruction of records where appropriate, the sharing of knowledge to support decommissioning activities, ensuring access and agreeing systems for managing the information in both digital and hard-copy formats – while keeping it useable – into the future.
The Programme is being led by Simon Tucker, the NDA’s Head of Information Governance, who has already been engaged on the strategy for seven years.
A single, centralised location for holding the information has already been agreed: The circa £20 million National Nuclear Archive, to be constructed in Wick over the next few years, forms just one part of the overarching programme that will involve all SLCs, NDA subsidiaries and key parts of the supply chain.
A further recent initiative has been the launch an electronic networking site for the sharing of nuclear information, the Knowledge Hub, which is currently being trialled by the NDA.
“The estate has accumulated an enormous amount of useful records, some dating back to the 1940s, which have arisen on individual sites that are ultimately scheduled for demolition. We need to ensure this knowledge is retained and is made readily accessible, while we also need consistent systems for managing the material during the years ahead.
“The scale of the challenge is significant, given that all sites have large volumes of records and have developed their own, often unique, systems for managing information over the years.
“Our aspiration is that this programme, which will be implemented over a period of years necessitates as little disruption as possible to site workloads, however, and is carried out cost-effectively.”
Much of the information is vital to decommissioning activities – maintenance of waste inventories, for example – and the aim is to ensure greater sharing across the estate.
One major activity in the initial stages will be a stock-taking exercise to understand the scale of the inventory: Sellafield alone has more than 80,000 boxes of archived records in storage, plus material on site and in various offices – estimated as stretching, if laid out, to more than 20km worth of paperwork. Magnox Ltd has a similar-sized collection in storage. Meanwhile, the number of electronic records held across the estate is believed to number hundreds of millions.
In order to understand the current situation and future needs, engagement on the programme, outlined in the NDA’s 2011 Strategy, has already taken place with SLCs, private-sector companies, regulators and Government departments. A team from Sellafield Ltd has been appointed to co-ordinate activity across the estate as the Information Governance Programme Integrator, via existing information management teams and reporting to NDA National Programmes. It is anticipated that major activities, initiated by external contractors if resources are not available from within the estate, will begin to get under way during 2014 as part of the continuous improvement process.