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Huhne: nuclear safety is number one priority

Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change The Rt Hon Chris Huhne MP today set out further detail on the UK Chief Nuclear Inspector&rsquo…

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Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change The Rt Hon Chris Huhne MP today set out further detail on the UK Chief Nuclear Inspector’s report into the implications of events at Japanese nuclear reactors on existing and new plants in the UK. This came as ministers met with representatives from the nuclear industry in London.

The Energy Secretary has asked Dr Mike Weightman for an interim report by mid May 2011 and a final report within six months. Both reports will be made public.

The Rt Hon Chris Huhne MP, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change said:

“The tragic events in Japan are still unfolding. We should not rush to judgment. It is important that we have the full facts at our disposal. I have asked the Chief Nuclear Inspector for a full report so that the implications for the UK are clear.

“Safety is and will continue to be the number one priority for existing nuclear sites and for any new power stations. I want to ensure that any lessons learned from Mike Weightman’s report are applied to the UK’s new build programme.”

Mike Weightman, Chief Nuclear Inspector, who addressed the Nuclear Development Forum said:

“This is a difficult time for Japan and we are ready to provide support as necessary. We must establish the facts on these unprecedented events and determine if there are lessons to be learned for the UK, to add to our very robust safety standards and arrangements. My report will be public, independent, evidence based, comprehensive, wide in scope and based on the best technical advice, consulting nationally and internationally with colleagues and organisations who, like us, have the safety and security of people and society uppermost in our minds.”

At the Nuclear Development Forum, the Secretary of State told industry that Government would consider the Nuclear National Policy Statement in light of the emerging nuclear crisis in Japan before proceeding with the ratification process.

Notes for editors

  1. Read the Secretary of State’s letter to Dr Mike Weightman and more information about nuclear power in the UK.
  2. Dr Mike Weightman is the UK’s chief nuclear inspector and head (director) of the Health and Safety Executive’s Nuclear Directorate, the UK’s independent nuclear safety and security regulator. A biography of Mike Weightman is available at on the HSE website and more information about the UK regulator can be found on the Nuclear pages of the HSE website.
  3. The Nuclear Development Forum meets today in London - for more detail on the Forum and its’ membership, please see the NDF section on the DECC website
  4. The Government consulted on a draft Nuclear National Policy Statement between October 2010 and January 2011. The draft NPS lists eight sites as potentially suitable for the deployment of new nuclear power stations by 2025 - these are:
* Bradwell
* Essex
* Hartlepool
* Borough of Hartlepool
* Heysham
* Lancashire
* Hinkley Point
* Somerset
* Oldbury
* South Gloucestershire
* Sellafield
* Cumbria
* Sizewell
* Suffolk
* Wylfa, Isle of Anglesey 
Published 17 March 2011