Chief nuclear inspector Mike Weightman has said there is no need to curtail the UK’s new nuclear programme, in his full report into the crisis at Fukushima Dai-ichi in Japan this March.
Following on from his interim report on May, Weightman has said the direct causes of the Fukushima accident — a magnitude 9 earthquake and associated 14m high tsunami — are far beyond the most extreme events the UK could expect to experience.
Weightman has identified 38 areas where lessons can be learned from the Japanese nuclear crisis. These include reliance on off-site infrastructure such as the electrical grid supply in extreme events, emergency response arrangements, plant layout, risks associated with flooding, planning controls around nuclear facilities and prioritising safety reviews.
Energy secretary Chris Huhne, who ordered the report, said the report “confirmed the UK’s current safety regime is working, and that regulators and industry should continue to work together to make continuous improvements to nuclear safety”.
The Weightman report’s main points were:
- There is no reason to curtail the operation of UK operating sites, although operators should continue to follow the founding principle of continuous improvement
- There are no fundamental weaknesses in the UK nuclear licensing regime or the Safety assessment principles that underpin it, and the intention to create the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) in statute will further enhance confidence in the UK’s regulatory regime
- There is no reason to revise the strategic advice given by the regulators on which the Nuclear National Policy Statement was based, or any need to change present siting strategies for new nuclear power stations in the UK
- The UK practice of periodic safety reviews of licensed sites provides a robust means of ensuring continuous improvement in line with advances in technology and standards;
- The events at Fukushima reinforce the need to continue to pursue decommissioning of former nuclear sites with utmost vigour and determination
- The regulator is satisfied with the responses and plans initiated by Government and nuclear industry in response to the interim report