Britain’s nuclear industry is scrambling to understand the full consequences of leaving Europe’s nuclear regulation group Euratom amid growing fears that Britain may be heading towards a Brexit cliff edge. The withdrawal from Euratom, as part of the Brexit process, threatens to leave British firms without a framework through which to navigate the tightly regulated trade of nuclear materials. UK ministers presented a Nuclear Safeguards Bill to Parliament this week which sets up a domestic nuclear safeguards regime. Industry insiders told The Daily Telegraph that they are monitoring the Government’s efforts to replicate the Euratom standards in an attempt to maintain access to the global nuclear market, but the slow progress means urgent contingency plans are likely to be required. The risk of a 2019 cliff edge could paralyse work building the new Hinkley Point C new nuclear project and leave nuclear fuel suppliers without stocks. “We are facing disruption to absolutely everything,” Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industries Association, told Sky News. “Fifteen months to two years sounds like a lot of time. It’s not. The clock is ticking and it has been since the referendum and we’ve made very little progress so far.” The NIA estimates that the £20bn Hinkley Point project will source around £5bn of its component parts from European countries. Typically the UK imports graphite components from Germany using feedstock produced in France. Stainless steel castings are also manufactured in France and stainless strips, used to manufacture certain fuels and stringer components, are imported from Sweden. The exit will also pose problems recruiting skilled labour. It is estimated that Hinkley Point will need 1,400 steel fixers at the peak of its construction phase. The NIA has said only 2,700 registered and certified steel fixers are based in the UK and the project will be forced to compete with other major infrastructure projects in the UK for these individuals. Many are nearing retirement with an average age of 57. “The best outcome for the nuclear industry would be if the UK could remain within the Euratom Treaty,” said a spokesman for EDF Energy, the French state-backed developer backing Hinkley Point.
Telegraph 13th Oct 2017 read more »
Britain’s nuclear industry prepares for no Brexit deal Sky’s Political Editor Faisal Islam explores the effects Brexit and leaving Euratom will have on the British nuclear industry.
Sky 13th Oct 2017 read more »
Nuclear workers’ leaders have welcomed a cross-party amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill aimed at protecting the industry after Brexit. Government plans to safeguard the nuclear industry through the transition were published in parliament earlier this week. The Nuclear Safeguards Bill aims to secure the future of the UK’s nuclear industry by establishing a domestic safeguards regime to deliver existing Euratom standards. Mike Clancy, general secretary of Prospect – the largest union for nuclear engineers and specialists – said: “Leaving Euratom presents real danger to the UK nuclear sector. The sector provides thousands of highly skilled, highly productive jobs as well as playing a vital role in keeping the lights on. “There is no convincing case for leaving Euratom; however, if we are leaving, time is now running out for the Government to set out a proper action plan to deal with nuclear co-operation, funding and safeguarding. “Prospect members will be urging MPs to support this sensible, cross-party amendment that will provide reassurance that Britain’s nuclear industry won’t face a damaging cliff edge.” Labour MP Mary Creagh, a supporter of the Open Britain group, said: “We were promised that Brexit would be quick, easy and pain-free. But now parts of our nuclear industry are activating plans to prepare for a destructive ‘no-deal’ Brexit that would end nuclear co-operation between the UK and the EU. “This would disrupt our energy supply and endanger cancer treatments. Nobody voted for that devastating outcome in the referendum. The Government urgently needs to rethink its extreme and damaging decision to pull out of Euratom, and act immediately to prevent nuclear co-operation suffering a Brexit no deal nightmare.” Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said: “Without alternative or transitional arrangements in place it will be difficult to move nuclear materials and components to and from the UK. “In order to mitigate risk, businesses will be looking at how they can protect their operations, if we are faced with a cliff edge in March 2019.”
Dundee Evening Telegraph 13th Oct 2017 read more »
Prospect, who represent 140,000 members, are concerned about the possibility that leaving Euratom could have on the nuclear sector. Clancy said that he believes an exit from Euratom poses “a real danger to the UK nuclear sector.” The amendment was tabled by former Tory minister Ed Vaizey and Labour chair of the BEIS committee. Clancy said: “The sector provides thousands of highly skilled, highly productive jobs as well as playing a vital role in keeping the lights on. “There is no convincing case for leaving Euratom, however if we are leaving time is now running out for the government to set out a proper action plan to deal with nuclear cooperation, funding and safeguarding. “Prospect members will be urging MPs to support this sensible, cross-party amendment that will provide reassurance that Britain’s nuclear industry won’t face a damaging cliff edge.”
Energy Voice 13th Oct 2017 read more »