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Government says UK firms could assist Fukushima clean up

The UK and Japan today agreed a Framework on Civil Nuclear Cooperation, providing the basis for UK companies to engage in multi-billion pound decommissioning opportunities in Japan.

Announced as part of prime minister David Cameron’s first official visit to Japan, the framework also opens the door to Japanese companies getting involved in the UK’s planned nuclear new build programme.

The joint framework, agreed at the UK/Japan summit on nuclear energy, sets out that both countries “reaffirm” their commitment to working together in the field of civil nuclear energy, particularly in areas that are “mutually beneficial”. These include Japanese companies’ technical expertise in new plant design and construction, and the UK’s decommissioning and waste-management experience and technology.

The framework also commits both countries to working closely on nuclear safety and sharing expertise on regulation and to sharing expertise, experience and technology in the remediation, decontamination and decommissioning of the Fukushima nuclear site.

“The UK has a wealth of expertise and experience in the area of nuclear decommissioning and waste management. I am in no doubt that cooperation with Japan in these areas will bring mutual benefits,” said energy minister Charles Hendry. “This agreement will open up opportunities for UK firms to work with Japanese industry and to continue to share the UK’s world-class expertise, just as we did in the aftermath of Fukushima.”

The framework also sets up an annual dialogue that will take place between senior UK and Japan officials across the full range of activities associated with civil nuclear energy. Separately, the Nuclear Industry Association and the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum signed a Memorandum of Understanding to further industrial collaboration between companies from the UK and Japan.

The Framework

Following the accident at the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station, Japan appreciates the UK’s heartfelt assistance and measured response. As an increasing number of countries around the world are expressing interest in nuclear energy to reduce carbon emissions and provide low-cost, secure energy supplies which can contribute to a sustainable energy future, the UK expects Japan to continue to play an important role in nuclear safety, non-proliferation and peaceful use of nuclear energy globally. Japanese companies’ technical expertise in new plant design and construction, and the UK’s decommissioning and waste-management experience and technology make civil nuclear co-operation particularly mutually beneficial.

Japan and the UK emphasise the importance of continuous efforts to enhance nuclear safety. Both countries reaffirm their commitment to working closely with the international community through the IAEA in further improving nuclear safety standards domestically and globally. In this context, Japan and the UK welcome the endorsement of the Action Plan on Nuclear Safety at the IAEA General Conference and express their commitment to ensure full and effective implementation of the Plan including for the regular systematic peer review of nuclear installations. Japan and the UK will work for the success of the Fukushima Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety held by Japan in co-sponsorship with the IAEA in December this year.

Based on their long-standing nuclear experience and expertise and a history of co-operation in civil nuclear power going back to the 1960s, Japan and the UK will work closely to share experience in the areas of nuclear safety and regulation through contact between the two countries’ nuclear regulatory authorities. The UK welcomes Japan’s ongoing effort to create a new regulatory body, which fully takes into consideration the importance of independent, competent, and rigorous regulation of nuclear safety and of enhanced emergency preparedness, according to the principles of continuous improvement and transparency and in line with IAEA safety standards.

To better address issues related to the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station, Japan and the UK affirm their intention to share expertise, experience and technology in remediation, decontamination, and decommissioning. This co-operation may include visits in both directions by officials, experts, operators and company representatives from relevant nuclear related agencies, organisations and companies from both countries.

Japan and the UK reaffirm their intention to continue working together in effectively managing nuclear resources. They reaffirm their commitments made in the 1998 Japan-UK Agreement for Co-operation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy. Japan and the UK will continue to share experience, expertise and potential technology in spent fuel management, international transport of nuclear materials, and other areas related to the nuclear fuel cycle.

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