Interim report backs nuclear safety

Britain's nuclear industry has been given the green light for its safety record but it must learn lessons following Japan's nuclear disaster.

The Government ordered a review of the UK’s nuclear infrastructure following the earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant earlier this year.

In his interim report, released today (May 18), chief inspector of nuclear installations, Mike Weightman, finds there’s ‘no need to curtail’ the operations of nuclear plants at the moment.

However the report makes 26 recommendations for review by either industry, Government or regulators – to determine if sensible and appropriate measures can further improve safety.

These include reviews of the layout of UK power plants, emergency response arrangements, dealing with prolonged loss of power supplies and the risks associated with flooding.

The 26th recommendation calls for plans to be published by the middle of June detailing how each of these 25 matters will be addressed.

Mr Weightman said: “The extreme natural events that preceded the accident at Fukushima – the magnitude nine earthquake and subsequent huge tsunami – are not credible in the UK.

“But we are not complacent, no matter what the differences are, and how high the standard of design and subsequent operation of the nuclear facilities here in the UK, the quest for improvement must never stop.

“Seeking to learn from events, and from new knowledge, both nationally and internationally, must continue to be a fundamental feature of the safety culture of the UK nuclear industry.”

Mr Weightman will next week go to Japan on a fact-finding mission, on behalf of the International Atomic Energy Agency, his findings will form a more comprehensive ‘lessons learned’ report which is due in September this year.

Luke Walsh

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