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Britain’s Brexit nuclear headache -leaving Euratom – will have to get its own nuclear inspectors

The UK’s race to get its own nuclear inspectors BBC News, 3 Nov 17, 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 was also quizzed by the MPs about feared shortages of less skilled workers needed to build new nuclear plants, such as steel workers and welders.

Ben Russell, of Horizon Nuclear, the Japanese-owned firm planning to build a new nuclear reactor at Wylfa Newydd, on Anglesey, called for a special visa for infrastructure workers post-Brexit so they could continue to be recruited from EU countries.

He said projects like HS2 and the third runway at Heathrow meant the demand for staff would outstrip supply and there was not enough time to train up British workers.

David Wagstaff, the civil servant leading talks for the UK on the withdrawal from Euratom, said it would be up to the British government to decide on a post-Brexit visa regime.

‘No relationship’

There was also concern about the future of the world-leading nuclear fusion laboratory based in Oxfordshire, the Joint European Torus (JET), which is mostly funded by the EU……. http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-41836855

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November 3, 2017 - Posted by | politics, UK

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