Dame Judith Hackitt named interim chair of UK’s nuclear regulator

Article by Adam Duckett

Dame Judith Hackitt led the independent review of building regulations and fire safety following the tragic Grenfell Tower fire

FORMER IChemE president Dame Judith Hackitt has been named the interim chair of the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR).

Dame Judith begins her appointment on 1 January, replacing Mark McAllister who has been appointed the new chair of energy network regulator Ofgem. Dame Judith takes over the role at an important time for the UK’s energy strategy, with the government planning to increase the proportion of energy provided by the nuclear sector from around 15% today to 25% by 2050. Earlier this year it created Great British Nuclear, an organisation to accelerate the development of novel small modular reactors (SMRs) and the deployment of conventional large-scale facilities including Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C.

Dame Judith said: “Nuclear is part of the government’s strategy for meeting our country’s energy needs and to deliver at pace we need a strong and efficient regulatory regime in place to enable industry and provide public assurance.”

She is chair of engineering and education organisation Enginuity and was previously chair of the Health and Safety Executive and the manufacturing trade group Make UK. In 2017, Dame Judith led the independent review of building regulations and fire safety following the tragic Grenfell Tower fire.

Mark Foy, ONR’s CEO and chief nuclear inspector, said: “Dame Judith’s strong track record within regulation and her considerable past experience provide a great opportunity to understand how we can further improve in how we deliver our work to protect society by securing safe nuclear operations.”

The ONR’s work overseeing safety and security at Sellafield has come into focus this month following an investigation by The Guardian claiming shortfalls at the site. The ONR issued a response, saying it has seen no evidence that systems at the nuclear waste storage and processing site have been hacked by state actors but that the high standards it requires on cybersecurity are not being met and investigations are ongoing.

Article by Adam Duckett

Editor, The Chemical Engineer

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