Energy Minister Charles Hendry has admitted that the crisis at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant will affect how people view nuclear energy.
Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, Mr Hendry said: “We totally understand the impact that events in Japan will have on public opinion across the world. That’s why we’ve acted quickly, we’ve asked Dr Weightman to look very carefully at this so we can be absolutely satisfied in an independent way if there’s anything more that we need to do here.”
Mr Hendry stressed the geographical and technological differences between Japan and the UK: “I think we recognise there’s very different circumstances, it’s a seismically active area in a way that the United Kingdom is not.
“The technology used in Japan is not the technology used in most of the plants in the United Kingdom or indeed those that will be part of the new build programme. We’ve used gas much more as a coolant over here rather than water, some of ours are not pressurised and that makes it easier to add additional water to them. So there’s a very different technological aspect to them in some of these areas. But as I say if there’s anything we can learn from this, we will do in order to ensure that safety is paramount.”
DECC has asked the UK Chief Nuclear Inspector to report on the implications of events at Japanese nuclear reactors on existing and new plants in the UK.