Green light for nuclear expansion in Britain: minister

11th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

Britain will press on with plans to expand its network of nuclear power stations, a minister said Tuesday, after a report on the Fukushima disaster found no grounds to restrict the use of reactors here.

A final report on the lessons that Britain's nuclear industry could learn from the crisis at the earthquake- and tsunami-hit Japanese reactor has concluded that there are no safety grounds to limit nuclear power in Britain.

Following the publication of interim findings from Britain's chief nuclear inspector Mike Weightman in May, the government signalled that plans for a new generation of nuclear power plants were on track.

Eight sites have been earmarked for new nuclear power plants.

The final review published Tuesday found there was no reason to curtail the operation of nuclear sites operating in Britain and there were no fundamental weaknesses in the licensing regime or safety procedures.

"The report makes clear that the UK has one of the best nuclear safety regimes in the world, and that nuclear power can go on powering homes and businesses across the UK, as well as supporting jobs," said Environment Secretary Chris Huhne.

"We must, however, continue to improve where we can, not just with operating power stations and new sites, but by dealing with our nuclear legacy in a robust and efficient manner too," he added.

Britain currently has 10 nuclear plants using 19 reactors, which account for almost a fifth of electricity production.

Weightman said: "I remain confident that our UK nuclear facilities have no fundamental safety weaknesses."

He added however that the industry was "not complacent".

"We will ensure lessons are learned from Fukushima. Action has already been taken in many cases, with work under way to further enhance safety at UK sites," he added.

In contrast to Britain, Germany has decided to phase out nuclear energy by 2022 in the wake of the disaster at the Fukushima plant in March.

© 2011 AFP

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