SHIPYARD bosses have been told to improve safety by the nuclear watchdog.

Following a site inspection, the Office for Nuclear Regulation said improvements were needed to BAE's emergency arrangements at its Barrow site.

The watchdog, which regulates safety at Britain's nuclear sites, said it was inspecting whether arrangements for an emergency incident at the shipyard were good enough.

That included checking whether bosses were able to identify all the events that could lead to a radiation emergency at the site.

Publishing a report on the inspection, the ONR said bosses needed to make improvements.

The regulator handed out an amber rating for BAE's emergency arrangements, the second worst possible rating.

It means there was a 'significant or systematic failure' to implement or meet certain regulations.

However, the watchdog noted there was no immediate risk to nuclear safety at the site.

BAE bosses say they are already working to address recommendations to improve.

In the report, the ONR inspector said BAE's emergency plans were too focused on responding to events during power range testing - part of the process of testing a submarine during commissioning - with 'significantly less' attention on possible emergencies from other activities.  

The inspector said evidence gathered 'suggests that the underlying arrangements themselves require improvement, particularly in the demonstration that the complete range of activities that may give rise to events and incidents on the site has been captured, thereby providing confidence in BAESMLs basis for its emergency response capability (people, plant and process)'.

The inspector added: "Whilst none of the findings in the inspection presented an immediate or direct risk to nuclear safety, ONR recognises the importance that an effective emergency response has in the mitigation of the consequences in the event of an incident on site. 

"I have therefore raised a level 3 regulatory issue (RI-11958) to track the improvements required to BAE System Marine Limited's emergency arrangements. 

"The actions within the RI will focus on implementation of a robust governance process and the development of an improvement plan."

A BAE Systems spokesperson said: "Safety remains our number one priority and none of the findings in the inspection presented an immediate or direct risk to nuclear safety.  

"We hold regular engagements with the ONR, as well as the Defence Nuclear Safety Regulator, and we welcome any learning that emerges from these regulatory interventions, including the latest recommendations, which we are already addressing."