Nuclear crisis lessons ‘not learned’

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Environmental campaigners have accused the Government of pushing forward with new nuclear power plants before lessons could be learned from the Fukushima crisis.

This week the Department of Energy and Climate Change is expected to publish the final report into the implications for the UK nuclear industry of the disaster at the tsunami-hit Fukushima reactor in Japan.

But Greenpeace is concerned it has been conducted too fast to learn the lessons from the crisis which began when the nuclear plant was hit by a tsunami following the magnitude 9 earthquake in March.

In initial findings published in May Dr Weightman ruled out the need for the UK to curtail the operation of nuclear power stations in light of the situation in Japan, since the possibility of similar natural events were not “credible” in the UK.

Dr Weightman said there was no need to change the current strategy for siting new nuclear power plants but suggested lessons could still be learned from the nuclear accident in Japan.

The interim report recommended 25 areas for review by the Government, industry and regulators, to determine if there are any measures which could improve safety in the UK nuclear industry.

Following its, Energy Secretary Chris Huhne signalled that plans for a new generation of nuclear reactors were on track and in June the Government confirmed eight sites around the country which it considers suitable, all of which are next to existing plants.

Greenpeace has made submissions to the inquiry outlining a number of concerns and has also launched a judicial review bid over the Government’s decision to green-light the new nuclear reactors before the final report was published.

Louise Hutchins from GP said: “It’s not really clear what Dr Weightman’s final report is for. The Government already jumped the gun and gave the green light to new reactors in Britain without bothering to wait for Dr Weightman’s final conclusions on lessons from the Fukushima disaster.

“The rushed timetable set for this final report looks like a dangerous attempt by the Government to cut corners and silence voices of concern, in order to keep pushing forward with its favoured technology.

“That’s why we are taking the Government to court - to make them wait for the evidence, properly consult and to think again about new nuclear power, like Germany, instead of closing ranks again with the nuclear industry.”