UK nuclear safety culture strong, regulator says

The UK chief nuclear regulator’s final report on implications of the Fukushima Daiichi accident has found no fundamental safety weaknesses in the country’s nuclear industry but says it can become even safer by learning lessons from Japan’s experience.

The newly published 315-page report by Mike Weightman, the UK’s chief inspector of nuclear installations and executive head of the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), expands on an interim report published in May.

The latest report provides additional information and evidence, and draws on national and international expert opinion including a fact-finding mission to Fukushima led by Weightman on behalf of the International Atomic Energy Agency in June. It also widens the scope of the report beyond UK nuclear generation sites to include non-generation sites such as Sellafield. Like the interim report, it does not examine nuclear policy issues.
The final report restates and reinforces the conclusions and recommendations outlined in the interim version, as well as adding further recommendations of its own. In total, Weightman concludes the UK can learn from the Japanese nuclear crisis in 38 areas, including reliance on off-site infrastructure (such as electrical grid supply in extreme events), emergency response arrangements, plant layout, risks associated with flooding, planning controls for development around nuclear facilities, and prioritising safety reviews.

Commenting on the report, Weightman expressed his confidence that UK nuclear facilities have no fundamental safety weaknesses, but emphasised there was no room for complacency. “Our philosophy is one of continuous improvement. No matter how high our standards, the quest for improvement must never stop. We will ensure lessons are learned from Fukushima,” he promised.

Weightman has asked for the UK nuclear industry to deliver progress reports to the ONR by June 2012, when he will make a report on the implementation of lessons learned.

Courtesy of WNN