The UK’s strategy for spent Magnox reactor fuel demands continued operation of the Magnox Reprocessing facility at Sellafield (located in the North West of England) to reprocess the remaining spent fuel in the shutdown Magnox reactor stations and from the two remaining operational Magnox reactor stations, Wylfa and Oldbury. Safety, security, environmental, transport, energy and economic issues provide the initiative to continue reprocessing in ageing facilities that are prone to chronic operational and nuclear safety challenges. One of the responsibilities of the UK’s Office for Nuclear Regulation is to regulate the safety of continuing Magnox Reprocessing Operations against relevant health and safety legislation; this largely non-prescriptive framework requires dutyholders to demonstrably reduce risk so far as is reasonably practicable. This paper articulates the often complex balances that have to be made to demonstrate compliance with safety law to sustain continued operation of ageing reprocessing facilities. This paper details how the UK’s regulatory framework facilitates a flexible, proportionate and goal-setting approach to regulating operational facilities where it is difficult to satisfy relevant good practice or standards that would be expected of a modern facility. The challenges presented by regulation of ageing, operational facilities is analogous to those from legacy waste retrieval and decommissioning; this paper reflects the versatility of the UK’s regulatory approach to these two different areas of the fuel cycle.

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