THE Ministry of Defence (MoD) has been told to “get a grip” of safety concerns at two nuclear weapons sites.

Both Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) sites in Aldermaston and Burghfield have been told further regulations are needed to raise the safety standards.

This comes after the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) annual report placed both sites in ‘special measures’ for the fifth year in a row.

When the enhanced regulation was first announced in 2013 ONR predicted it would only last for two years, however half a decade on, the regulators found no major improvements have been made.

In the last year ONR made eight instances of formal enforcement measures, five were directed at AWE. These formal enforcement measures are reserved for when nuclear inspections are categorised ‘red’ because licensees “failed to meet the safety and security expectations required by law.”

Enforcement measures at AWE related to their failure to produce a plan for dealing with holdings of higher activity waste and failures to properly manage changes to safety documentation.

David Cullen, research manager for the Nuclear Information Service, which works with ONR said: “Something has gone seriously wrong when over half the enforcement measures used by ONR in the last year were targeted at AWE.

“The MoD need to get a grip. If the current management can’t properly prioritise safety, then they need to be replaced with someone who can.”

Paul Rees, AWE head of environment, safety and health, said: “Delivering safe and secure operations remains the core priority for AWE.

“We welcome the independent scrutiny and monitoring our regulators provide, and will continue to work closely with the ONR in maintaining our safety standards.”