Britain’s first nuclear power station in two decades will be delayed by a government decision to quit Europe’s atomic power treaty, experts have warned. Ministers revealed on Thursday that Brexit would involve the UK leaving Euratom, which promotes research into nuclear power and uniform safety standards. The news poses problems for the Hinkley Point C station in Somerset, while raising questions over safety inspection regimes and the UK’s future participation in nuclear fusion research. EDF warned that restrictions on the movement of people because of Brexit could delay delivery of new energy infrastructure. Vince Zabielski, a nuclear energy specialist at the law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, said: “If the UK leaves Euratom before new standalone nuclear cooperation treaties are negotiated with France and the US, current new build projects will be placed on hold while those standalone treaties are negotiated.” Other lawyers questioned why the government had decided to quit Euratom and in the manner it had done so, in the explanatory notes accompany the article 50 bill.
Guardian 27th Jan 2017 read more »
Scientists are shocked and angry at the UK government’s sudden confirmation on 26 January that it wants to pull out of the European Union’s nuclear agency Euratom, as part of its arrangements for Brexit. Depending upon whether and how the UK negotiates a way back in to the organization, the move could endanger British participation in the world’s largest fusion experiment, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) in Cadarache, France. It could also curtail operations at the Joint European Torus (JET), a nuclear-fusion facility based in Culham, UK. The facility is a half-sized version of ITER and acts as a test-bed for it; it currently receives around €56 million ($60 million) annually from Euratom. “It is simply bonkers to leave Euratom,” says Steven Cowley, a nuclear fusion researcher who until last year was director of the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, which hosts JET.
Nature 27th Jan 2017 read more »
Scientific American 27th Jan 2017 read more »
LEAVING the EU could derail the UK’s planned new nuclear power station programme and even threaten research into the development of fusion energy which is widely hailed as crucial to tackling the global energy crisis.
Express 27th Jan 2017 read more »
British plans to leave the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) when it exits the European Union could raise costs, delay new nuclear power projects and complicate research and international cooperation agreements, experts said on Friday. On Thursday, Britain published the legislation it will use to seek parliamentary approval for triggering the process for leaving the European Union, saying the Prime Minister has the power to notify the European Council of withdrawal. That includes withdrawal from Euratom, an accompanying document to the bill said. Britain plans to build new nuclear reactors as it faces an electricity supply gap in the coming decade, the biggest of which is the $24 billion Hinkley Point C project being built by French utility EDF. “Clearly this is something which could impact the industry’s complex supply chain and it may well have an impact on Hinkley Point,” said Anthony Froggart, senior research fellow at thinktank Chatham House.
Reuters 27th Jan 2017 read more »
David Lowry: Brexit Britain could become a nuclear rogue state. Your energy correspondent’s important report rightly raises an aspect of Brexit that has eluded the political discussion of Brexit complexities to date. You report an anonymous government spokeswoman as asserting that the UK wanted to see a continuity of cooperation and standards. “We remain absolutely committed to the highest standards of nuclear safety, safeguards and support for the industry. Our aim is clear – we want to maintain our mutually successful civil nuclear cooperation with the EU.” But nuclear technology consultant John Large is more accurate in pointing out “The main burden of the UK leaving Euratom will be the need for it to cover its nuclear non-proliferation safeguards commitment and for this it will have to either set up a separate, independent agency or bring these treaty responsibilities into the Office for Nuclear Regulation.” Indeed, this issue was raised by Green Party co-leader, Caroline Lucas MP in a written question shortly after the Brexit referendum, when she asked the business and energy secretary “what steps would be needed to replace EU Atomic Energy Community safeguards inspectors with International Atomic Energy Agency Inspectors to implement safeguards provisions on (a) UKnuclear installations and (b) nuclear material used and created at UK nuclearsites under treaties to which the UK is a party?” She was told by energy minister, Jesse Norman, who responded with following evasive reply: “Until the UK leaves the EU, it is expected to remain a full member with all relevant rights and obligations. The Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy will continue to work closely with stakeholders and the rest of Government during our negotiations to exit the EU to deliver energy which is secure, affordable and clean.” What Mr Norman did not address is the fact that currently international inspection of UK nuclear plants and nuclear explosive materials to ensure the UK pledge not to divert these plants or materials to military misuse is verified, to recall Mrs May’s phrase in Philadelphia by the EU;s Euratom agency on behalf of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, under a treaty signed in September 1978 between the UK, Euratom and the IAEA. It is now time energy and foreign ministers and their advisors turn their attention to what they are going to do to ensure nuclear safeguards continuity in the UK post Brexit to avoid the UK becoming a nuclear rogue state.
Dr David Lowry 27th Jan 2017 read more »