Sizewell: Nuclear bosses welcome Weightman report on Fukushima

PUBLISHED: 17:54 11 October 2011

Energy bosses have reiterated their plans to build a new nuclear reactor at Sizewell

Energy bosses have reiterated their plans to build a new nuclear reactor at Sizewell

Mike Page

ENERGY bosses have today reiterated their commitment to building a new nuclear power station in Suffolk after a report on the Fukushima disaster found no reason to curb the use of reactors.

The review, led by chief nuclear inspector Mike Weightman, examined the lessons which could be learnt from the Japanese crisis.

It found that there was no reason to curtail the operation of nuclear sites operating in the UK and there are no fundamental weaknesses in the licensing regime or safety assessment principles.

It means that French owned EDF can now push ahead with its plans to build Sizewell C - one of eight sites the Government has confirmed is suitable for new nuclear plants.

Vincent de Rivaz, chief executive of EDF, said: “Britain needs new nuclear to tackle the three challenges of keeping the lights on, keeping prices affordable and reducing emissions.

“We will build more than just a nuclear power station. The project’s legacy will contribute to a strong economic future by restarting a nuclear construction industry after a gap of nearly 20 years and creating jobs and business opportunities for decades to come, as well as affordable, secure and clean electricity for homes and businesses.”

The report was commissioned by government following the nuclear disaster at Fukushima earlier this year.

Its aim was to establish whether safety standards and procedures in the UK nuclear industry were sufficient to avoid an occurrence like that in Japan.

Dr Weightman, chief nuclear inspector at the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), said he was confident UK nuclear facilities have no fundamental safety weaknesses.

But anti-nuclear campaigners described the report as a “whitewash” claiming it ignored fundamental safety issues.

Charles Barnett, chairman of the Shutdown Sizewell Campaign, said: “What will have to happen before action is taken? You would think Fukushima was a wake up call. Nuclear technology is unforgiving and should not be pursued. The answer is the non polluting renewables.”

There are 38 recommendations in the report, including reviewing the reliance on off-site infrastructure such as the power grid in the case of a disaster, and looking at flooding studies to make sure nuclear sites are sufficiently protected.

But the final review did not find any significant defects in the UK’s approach to nuclear regulation.

Energy secretary Chris Huhne said: “The report makes clear that the UK has one of the best nuclear safety regimes in the world, and that nuclear power can go on powering homes and businesses across the UK, as well as supporting jobs.”

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