Energy: Nuclear Programme Gets Green Light

Disaster in Japan shows no reason to curtail UK nuclear activity, report says.

Disaster in Japan shows no reason to curtail UK nuclear activity, report says.

Despite the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan, the official nuclear regulators have deemed it safe to continue building UK nuclear reactors and let existing reactors continue unrestricted.

The UK’s chief nuclear inspector, Dr. Mike Weightman, reported that he found no fundamental problems in safety regulations and current licensing practices.

‘Continuous Improvement’

Dr. Weightman did say, however, that “continuous improvement” should continue to be strived for.

The government commissioned the nuclear report after a tsunami damaged the Fukushima Daiichi in Japan this March.

In May, the nuclear regulators released a set of preliminary conclusions which included recommendations to review ventilation, electrical backup system, and flood protection.

The final report, released recently, expands on those recommendations but more importantly says that it found no reason to slow the progress of nuclear energy in the UK.

To facilitate the expansion of nuclear energy, Wightman said that “action has already been taken in many cases, with work under way to further enhance safety at UK sites.”

He also stressed a priority for formulating clean-up plans for “legacy” sites like Sellafield.

‘Not Complacent’

Despite the go-ahead, Weightman stresses that the UK is “not complacent” about nuclear power regulations.

“No matter how high our standards, the quest for improvement must never stop,” Weightman said.

Weightman’s report is influenced by the fact-finding trip he took to Japan with the International Atomic Energy Agency. He said, however, that the full details of the disaster in Japan are not fully known, and may never be known due to the loss of control surrounding the incident.

The report is being criticised by environmental groups such as Greenpeace, who feel it is “rushed.”

“[The report] is designed with one objective – to give the green light to a new generation of nuclear power stations, irrespective of the safety, environmental or rising financial costs of those nuclear stations,” said Louise Hutchins of Greenpeace.

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