Nuclear safeguards at risk

Labour Party

Sky News has revealed in a special investigation that Britain risks missing a vital deadline for establishing full post Brexit nuclear safeguards.

Leaked documents revealed by the TV station found the late delivery of an IT system along with problems in recruiting adequately qualified inspectors are in part causing the problem.

The document identifies five high level risks facing Britain unless it addresses the issues before Brexit. It categorises these risks as red, amber and green. Examples of red warnings include the “High Level Risk” that the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR)is unable to train and warrant an adequate number of new inspectors in time. And a further red warning concerned the failure to: “recruit enough people with the right skills to deliver a UK State System of Accountancy for control of nuclear material to meet international obligations by 2019”.

In addition, there have been problems with recruitment along with failures to arrange a comprehensive handover of hardware and equipment from the EU agency Euratom.
The new IT system must be ready to run in parallel with the European system before it can take over in March 2019 but a key milestone has been “irretrievably lost”.

Although Parliament has been notified that 13 inspectors and trainee inspectors have been recruited there is concern as to whether they can be trained within the time frame, with claims stating it takes five years to fully train a safeguards inspector.

In real terms if Britain was to leave the EU without an adequate deal in place then, nuclear operators warn Sky news of potential for: “shutdowns to nuclear power stations, and the transfer of crucial medical isotopes being blocked in such a scenario.”

Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industries Association, told Sky news: “If no deal means no transition then this is a very exacting time frame to try and do everything by.

“I’m not at all confident that we can get everything done by March 2019.”

You can read the full investigation by Sky News here.