Weightman report introduces new post-Fukushima safety measures but supports new build plans

The nuclear industry has welcomed the final report of chief nuclear inspector Dr Mike Weightman into the lessons for the UK from the Japanese nuclear disaster at Fukushima in Japan.

Dr Weightman’s report, published yesterday, endorsed his interim findings, effectively giving the green light for a new generation of nuclear power stations.

In particular his report highlighted two findings of his interim report, that “Flooding risks are unlikely to prevent construction of new nuclear power stations at potential  development sites in the UK over the next few years,” and that: “There is no need to change the present siting strategies for new nuclear power stations in the UK.”

The chief executive of EDF, which is planning to build four nuclear reactors in the UK, said Dr Weightman’s report was comprehensive and transparent, but added that it would lead to further costs for the firm.

Chief executive Vincent de Rivaz said: “We will review his findings in detail and build them into our plans. We have already committed to implementing his recommendations for us in full. We welcome Dr Weightman’s reaffirmation that ‘UK nuclear facilities have no fundamental safety weaknesses’.

“We invest more than £300m a year in our nuclear fleet. As a result of Fukushima we will invest even more.”

Tom Foulkes, director general of the Institution of Civil Engineers said: “Weightman’s review has rightly set the standards high for UK nuclear, putting the onus on industry to strive for continued improvements in safety and risk assessment. Ensuring these lessons are understood at every level of delivery is crucial to minimising project risks.  

“ICE will be playing its part in meeting this challenge through its ongoing ‘Nuclear Lessons Learnt’ programme, helping to capture lessons not only from Fukushima but from past projects across the world to ensure safer, more efficient delivery of nuclear power in the UK.”

Nelson Ogunshakin, chief executive of the Association of Consulting Engineers, agreed engineers would play a key role in ensuring the safety of a generation of nuclear power stations.

He said: “We welcome Dr Weightman’s report.  The UK has taken a sensible approach to evaluating the implications of the disaster in Japan for the UK nuclear sector.  A knee-jerk response from UK authorities would have been exceptionally damaging to the UK’s prospects for attracting investment and meeting our energy needs and carbon reduction obligations.