World News

Britain seeks to smooth Brexit path for nuclear power

LONDON (Reuters) - The British government said on Thursday it was in talks with the European Union to ensure a smooth transition for its nuclear industry as Britain moves away from Euratom’s regulatory regime to a domestic one.

The nuclear industry has raised concerns that its operations and investments could be hampered should Britain fail to replicate the regulatory regime provided by Euratom, the EU’s atomic agency, in time for Brexit in March 2019. [L5N1LU4DZ]

“Discussions with the European Union are ongoing. We will be exploring a number of options for smooth transition from the current Euratom regime to a domestic one,” Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Greg Clark said.

The industry has said Britain not only needs its own safety regime, but also one that is approved by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

It also needs agreements signed with other countries on the transfer of equipment to guarantee power plants run smoothly.

Clark said Britain would establish a regime that would match Euratom’s standards and exceed those of the IAEA. He said the government was seeking deals with the IAEA to allow the body to inspect British nuclear facilities and verify safety standards.

At a parliamentary hearing on Wednesday, Mina Golshan, the deputy chief of the Office for Nuclear Regulation which would run the safeguards regime, said the office had begun to build staff and expertise in this area.

But she said specialized IT equipment, skills and people were still needed and one of the consequences of leaving Euratom was potentially the loss of access to experts residing in Europe that could help.

“There are uncertainties associated with this ... The biggest risk is our ability to recruit,” she said.

Reporting by Sabina Zawadzki; Editing by Dale Hudson and Edmund Blair