Office for Nuclear Regulation

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Chief Nuclear Inspector publishes interim 'lessons learnt' report

Early analysis of Japanese accident makes 26 recommendations for UK

18 May 2011

Interim report on the Japanese earthquake and tsunami: Implications for the UK nuclear industry

An interim assessment of the implications of the nuclear crisis in Japan concludes there is no need to curtail the operations of nuclear plants in the UK but lessons should be learnt.

The UKs Chief Inspector of Nuclear Installations, Mike Weightman, today publishes a report, requested by the UK Government, in which he calls for action to be taken to learn from events at Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station.

His report identifies 25 recommended areas for review - by either industry, the Government or regulators - to determine if sensible and appropriate measures can further improve safety in the UK nuclear industry. These include reviews of the layout of UK power plants, emergency response arrangements, dealing with prolonged loss of power supplies and the risks associated with flooding.

The 26th recommendation calls for plans to be published by the middle of June detailing how each of these 25 matters will be addressed.

Mike Weightman, executive head of the Office for Nuclear Regulation, said:

"The extreme natural events that preceded the accident at Fukushima - the magnitude 9 earthquake and subsequent huge tsunami - are not credible in the UK. We are 1,000 miles from the nearest fault line and we have safeguards in place that protect against even very remote hazards. Our operating and proposed future reactor designs and technology are different to the type at the Fukushima plant.

"But we are not complacent. No matter what the differences are, and how high the standard of design and subsequent operation of the nuclear facilities here in the UK, the quest for improvement must never stop. Seeking to learn from events, and from new knowledge, both nationally and internationally, must continue to be a fundamental feature of the safety culture of the UK nuclear industry.

"The Japanese people are still dealing with the aftermath of this terrible event. The full facts are not clear. I depart for Japan next week to lead a fact-finding mission on behalf of the International Atomic Energy Agency, with support from nuclear experts from across the world. This will help inform my final and more comprehensive lessons learned report which I will publish in September."

The report published today was requested by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change within days of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami of 11 March that led to the crisis at Fukushima Dai-ichi. This is the interim report requested by Chris Huhne. The full, more comprehensive report will be published in September.

Notes to editors

  1. The interim report, Japanese earthquake and tsunami: Implications for the UK Nuclear Industry, is available at www.onr.org.uk/fukushima/
  2. Mike Weightman is Her Majestys Chief Inspector of Nuclear Installations and executive head of the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR).
  3. More information about the IAEA mission to Japan is at www.iaea.org/newscenter/pressreleases/2011/prn201106.html
  4. ONR was formed on 1 April 2011 and seeks to secure the protection of people and society from the hazards of the nuclear industry by ensuring compliance with relevant legislation and by influencing the nuclear industry to create an excellent health, safety and security culture. www.onr.org.uk

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2014-03-25