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The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) is a public organisation which was formed following the Energy Act 2004. The organisation was created with a mission to deliver sustainable solutions against the challenge of cleaning up and managing nuclear waste whilst ensuring public safety. This involves monitoring progress of the decommissioning of sites, setting annual budgets for nuclear clean-up, and creating sustainable strategies for waste management.

Original Business Drivers

• Increase efficiency of records management by ensuring that records are readily available and easily identifiable
• Promote consistency in records management across the NDA Estate
• Capturing records from a variety of sources and classifying and filing records in a digital format using the Metadata Standard
• Moving records to the state-of-the-art NDA archive facility.

The Challenge

The NDA is responsible for millions of nuclear records dating back decades, some of which are kept in buildings due to be decommissioned. Consequently, the NDA faced the challenge of sifting through records to determine what could be destroyed and which records should be transferred to the specialist archive facility Nucleus, the Nuclear and Caithness Archives. In addition to the sifting requirement, record traceability was key to be able to retrieve documents easily from the archive repository.

Nucleus, was specifically built to house the UK nuclear industry’s records in environmentally controlled conditions and opened in February 2017. It was built to hold around 20 kilometres of archives from more than 16 nuclear sites. One of the challenges the NDA faced was the need to transfer thousands of documents from the nuclear sites to the archive. The NDA secured Restore as its commercial partner to operationally manage the archive facility in Wick and NDA and Restore subsequently worked together to gain the prestigious ‘Place of Deposit’ status for the archive during the latter half of 2017.

The Requirement

The NDA had a requirement for thousands of records from several End Users to be reviewed and, in line with NDA and legal guidelines, a decision taken on whether to archive or destroy these documents. Records deemed for archive were to be indexed on a metadata spreadsheet ensuring full traceability once transferred to Nucleus. Those identified as “end of life” records were to be destroyed securely.

It was critical that the programme was to be managed by an experienced provider able to work under strict confidentiality rules and NDA security guidelines.

The Solution

Restore were chosen to implement the Sift and Lift programme, which involves staff sifting through records against NDA and legal record retention guidelines to determine which records are to be archived or destroyed. Restore follow IMP06 guidelines to capture detailed and quality metadata relating to these records, which ensures full traceability and enables fast retrieval. Restore are also working towards the digitisation of the archives to allow online access to documents.

Restore trained their staff to cleanse records in line with the Nucleus archive standard. By avoiding the degradation of paper, the records can be preserved for longer periods. All staff deployed to the programme have a minimum of BPSS level security clearance, and follow strict NDA security protocols in handling confidential data securely.

Restore works closely with End Users (the sites where the records originated) to update tailored retention schedules and rules surrounding document retention. This is made possible by the passage of knowledge between nuclear Subject Matter Experts and those working at Restore. These positive relationships have formed through strong communication links and regular meetings with the End Users.


Following the capture of metadata there is now a rich source of data containing information about the records, enabling documents to be identified remotely via an Archive Management System. The systems that Restore have put in place now allow for faster retrieval of documents which is vital for improved access to records for both the NDA and public users.

Restore have improved record traceability and there is now a full audit trail for every document handled by Restore. This mitigates the risk of documents being lost or misplaced.

By organising the destruction of documents which according to legal and NDA retention guidelines are no longer relevant Restore have generated increased storage capacity in the archive.

At Nucleus, the successful management of the archive by Restore has resulted in ‘Place of Deposit’ Status being granted by The National Archives (TNA) and National Records of Scotland in December 2017. This denotes those exceptional standards in running an archive have been achieved. Nucleus is one of the largest repositories in the UK to have gained this status demonstrating that documents archived there are in a secure, state-of-the-art-facility and are preserved in appropriate conditions whilst cleansed to the archive’s high standard.

The team at Nucleus have also contributed to the socio-economic status of Wick by fundraising for local charities and working towards reducing local unemployment through the promotion of local businesses and the recruitment of residents.

“Our specialist contractor, Restore Digital, has worked incredibly hard to secure Place of Deposit status and we’re extremely proud of this achievement.”
Martin Robb
Programme Manager for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s (NDA) Information Governance Programme