The Health and Safety Executive has announced that it will provide a report on the implications and lessons to be learned for the UK nuclear industry arising out of the events in Japan following the earthquake, and resulting tsunami, of 11 March 2011.
The decision to write the report was prompted by a request from Chris Huhne, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, in a letter to Dr Mike Weightman, Chief Nuclear Inspector of the Health and Safety Executive’s Nuclear Directorate. The interim report is due to be published by mid-May 2011 and followed by a final report within six months.
Dr Weightman has indicated that the report will be wide in scope, but will not address nuclear or energy policy issues. It will address design provision relating to natural hazards, the natural hazards that threaten UK nuclear installations and the lessons that ought to be learnt from events in Japan.
Dr Weightman commented that “The nuclear regulatory standards in the UK ensure our nuclear power reactors are robust against all the external hazards that may be reasonably foreseen in the UK and I agree with advice that seismic and tsunami events of such extreme magnitude as seen in Japan are not foreseeable for the UK. However, it is important that we consider the implications and learn any lessons to ensure we continue to secure the protection of people and society”.
Separately, a new Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) was created in March 2011 following worldwide and domestic concern with nuclear power generation. Former chief executive of Powergen, Nick Baldwin, was confirmed on 01 April 2011 as the interim Chair of the ONR which is intended to become a separate statutory body. Until suitable legislation is passed, the ONR will operate as an agency of the Health and Safety Executive.