The government cannot guarantee Britain will have enough nuclear inspectors when it leaves the EU, MPs on the business committee were told. The Office of Nuclear Regulation has recruited four new safeguards inspectors but says it needs more time to fill the specialised roles. Nuclear minister Richard Harrington said there was “plenty of time” to recruit the staff needed. But he stopped short of offering a firm guarantee. The government has stressed that nuclear safeguards – the processes by which the UK shows its civil nuclear material is not diverted into weapons programmes – are different from nuclear safety – the prevention of nuclear accidents. Mr Harrington said the UK was committed to leaving Euratom, the agency which has regulated the nuclear industry across Europe since 1957, at the same time as it left the EU in March 2019. Industry figures have warned about significant disruption to energy production in the UK if there is not a new inspection regime ready to go to, to replace the one currently overseen by Euratom. The four senior figures who gave evidence to the business committee on Wednesday said there was no benefit to the UK from leaving Euratom. Mr Harrington agreed that Euratom had done a good job but said there was no question of remaining in it, as some have demanded, or of having “associate membership”. He said a new UK regime would be set up to be as “close as possible” to the one operated by Euratom.
BBC 2nd Nov 2017 read more »