Nuclear specialists put risk at top of agenda

The Nuclear Industry Risk Management Association (NIRMA) formed earlier this year by the NDA, SLCs and regulators, also including EDF and the Institute of Risk Management has held its inaugural conference in Kendal this month. Dealing with the risks inevitably associated with ageing nuclear facilities is a fundamental part of the NDA’s mission, and formed part of the discussions led by the NDA’s Chief Executive John Clarke at the event.

Around 40 senior executives from the NDA estate, the SLCs and the regulatory authorities attended the annual Risk Management Conference and agreed that risk should continue as a priority focus for the whole estate, particularly in the light of recent high-profile cyber-attacks and the current international climate.

The NDA’s Head of Portfolio Management Office Chris Watson opened the event, emphasising the importance of really understanding risks and their dependencies; ensuring that risk mitigation considers both controls and mitigation; and that risk management is embedded in all activities throughout the industry.

He also outlined the importance of the Board and Executive in setting the right ‘tone from the top’ and ensuring that risks are managed in line with the Board’s risk appetite.

Held at Kendal, the one-day conference, sponsored by LSC Group and Turner & Townsend, was preceded by a tour of the Low Level Waste Repository, near Drigg, Cumbria.

A series of presentations followed the opening sessions, focused on learning, sharing good practice and how risks are managed by other industrial sectors.

Commenting on the event NDA’s Risk Manager Richard James said, “Risk management has increased its profile over the last year and continues to be an NDA Executive priority. The NDA vision is to ensure risk management is embedded into the way that we work. He also added how the conference allowed risk practitioners from across the industry to share their achievements, challenges and priorities. Together we will continue to drive forward risk management standards.”

John Clarke opened the afternoon session and stressed the importance of the board and executive team in developing a corporate risk culture. He highlighted how risk management will only work if there is the right ‘tone from the top. He also discussed how risk management influenced decision-making, and achieving a healthy balance between looking at the ‘here and now’ and the ‘tomorrow’ – the latter being essential for a risk management culture.

Talking after the session Mr Clarke said that, “It was a good session with some useful external input into issues such as Risk Appetite. We’ve made enormous strides in the area of risk management in the past 18 months. The key messages I took from the workshop are that we are very much on the right track and where we are still trying to get to grips with issues (for example risk appetite) we’re in the same boat as pretty much everyone else! “