When the British voted for Brexit, they gave little thought to nuclear safety. But their decision last June likely means the U.K. will have to pull out of the 59-year-old Euratom Treaty as well as the EU. And there are consequences. Euratom — or the European Atomic Energy Community — is the lesser known of the three communities that led to the European Union’s creation. Many believe that leaving the EU will automatically trigger a Euratom exit, although some say maybe not. Brexatom would be legally and politically complicated and costly, putting pressure on the U.K.’s own Office for Nuclear Regulation to add enough staff to cover nuclear non-proliferation inspections and authorize the sale of nuclear material. The toughest question is who will inspect British civil nuclear sites that generate power, fabricate fuel and manage waste. Euratom and the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) oversee them now, although the IAEA has scaled back because of overlap. The U.K. — which has 15 nuclear reactors that account for 21 percent of its electricity needs — takes up about a quarter of the time Euratom spends on safeguard checks in the EU. Whoever picks up Euratom’s responsibilities in Britain — the IAEA or the national regulator — will likely need more staff and money to pay for it. The effects of a Brexatom would also reverberate across the Continent. Britain is the loudest nuclear advocate in Western Europe, even more than France, and Brexatom would tip the balance across the remaining 27 countries in favor of the heavily anti-nuclear energy camp.
Politico 12th Dec 2016 read more »