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Fuel supply fears raise new threat to new nuclear

NCE stock nuclear

Leaving nuclear body Euratom due to Brexit could jeopardise nuclear fuel supplies and threaten new UK reactors, engineers have warned.

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ report Leaving the EU: the Euratom Treaty urges the government to develop a transitional framework before Britain leaves the European Union (EU) to avoid major disruption.

It also warns of nuclear fuel shortages while highlighting the need for new nuclear trade deals with EU and non-EU countries.

“The UK’s departure from Euratom must not be seen as an after-thought to leaving the EU,” said IMechE head of energy and environment and lead report author Jenifer Baxter.

“There needs to be a thorough framework in place to provide assurances on nuclear safety, nuclear proliferation and environmental issues.”

A note in the recent Brexit Bill announced that leaving the EU automatically means leaving Euratom, partly due to Euratom being enforced by the European Court of Justice and managed by EU institutions.

Euratom is the EU body dedicated to nuclear research. It also provides a single market of goods and services for nuclear build and decomissioning across Europe – therefore jeopardising the UK’s easy access to materials.

Baxter stressed that although making transitional arrangements will be difficult, they could provide the UK with more opportunities for trade deals.

According to the report, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority should sell nuclear services to international trade partners.

The report also advises the government to make new Nuclear Cooperation Agreements with Euratom and other non-EU countries, as well as develop a transitional framework with urgency.

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