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Nuclear National Policy Statement to be re-examined following Japanese crisis

Energy and climate change secretary Chris Huhne has said that the Government will consider the Nuclear National Policy Statement in light of the emerging nuclear crisis in Japan before proceeding with the ratification process.

Speaking at a Nuclear Development Forum event, Huhne set out further detail on the UK Chief Nuclear Inspector’s report into the implications of events at Japanese nuclear reactors on existing and new plants in the UK.

Huhne has asked chief nuclear inspector Dr Mike Weightman for an interim report by mid May 2011 and a final report within six months.

He said: “The tragic events in Japan are still unfolding. We should not rush to judgment. It is important that we have the full facts at our disposal. I have asked the Chief Nuclear Inspector for a full report so that the implications for the UK are clear.

“Safety is and will continue to be the number one priority for existing nuclear sites and for any new power stations. I want to ensure that any lessons learned from Mike Weightman’s report are applied to the UK’s new build programme.”

Weightman added: “This is a difficult time for Japan and we are ready to provide support as necessary. We must establish the facts on these unprecedented events and determine if there are lessons to be learned for the UK, to add to our very robust safety standards and arrangements. My report will be public, independent, evidence based, comprehensive, wide in scope and based on the best technical advice, consulting nationally and internationally with colleagues and organisations who, like us, have the safety and security of people and society uppermost in our minds.”

The government consulted on a draft Nuclear National Policy Statement between October 2010 and January 2011. The draft NPS lists eight sites as potentially suitable for the deployment of new nuclear power stations by 2025 – these are Bradwell, Essex; Hartlepool, Borough of Hartlepool; Heysham, Lancashire; Hinkley Point, Somerset; Oldbury, South Gloucestershire; Sellafield, Cumbria; Sizewell, Suffolk; and Wylfa, Isle of Anglesey.

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