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The silver lining on Brexit’s cloud:UK nuclear power stations ‘could be forced to close’

thumbs-downflag-UKUK nuclear power stations ‘could be forced to close’ after Brexit  Leaving Euratom treaty will shut down nuclear industry if international safety agreements are not made in time, MPs told, Guardian, , 1 Mar 17, Nuclear power stations would be forced to shut down if a new measures are not in place when Britain quits a European atomic power treaty in 2019, an expert has warned.

Rupert Cowen, a senior nuclear energy lawyer at Prospect Law, told MPs on Tuesday that leaving the Euratom treaty as the government has promised could see trade in nuclear fuel grind to a halt.

The UK government has said it will exit Euratom when article 50 is triggered. The treaty promotes cooperation and research into nuclear power, and uniform safety standards.

“Unlike other arrangements, if we don’t get this right, business stops. There will be no trade. If we can’t arrive at safeguards and other principles that allow compliance [with international nuclear standards] to be demonstrated, no nuclear trade will be able to continue.”

Asked by the chair of the Commons business, energy and industrial strategy select committee if that would see reactors switching off, he said: “Ultimately, when their fuels runs out, yes.” Cowen said that in his view there was no legal requirement for the UK to leave Euratom because of Brexit: “It’s a political issue, not a legal issue.”

The UK nuclear industry would be crippled if new nuclear cooperation deals are not agreed within two years, a former government adviser told the committee.

“There is a plethora of international agreements that would have to be struck that almost mirror those in place with Euratom, before we moved not just material but intellectual property, services, anything in the nuclear sector. We would be crippled without other things in place,” said Dame Sue Ion, chair of the Nuclear Innovation and Research Advisory Board, which was established by the government in 2013.

She said movement of the industry’s “best intellectual talent” was made easier by the UK’s membership of Euratom…….

Over the weekend, the GMB union called on ministers to reconsider their “foolhardy rush” to leave the treaty, claiming it could endanger the “UK’s entire nuclear future”…….

Norman also promised a decision was due soon on the next stage of a delayed multimillion-pound government competition for mini nuclear reactors, known as small modular reactors. “I love the projects and ideas but I want to be shown the value,” he told the peers. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/feb/28/british-nuclear-power-stations-could-be-forced-to-close-after-brexit

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March 1, 2017 - Posted by | politics, UK

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