House of Lords Committee pens letter over Brexit nuclear concerns

The group has called for urgent clarification on what actions the government is taking to mitigate any risks

The Big Zero report

The House of Lords EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee has written to the government over concerns the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) is falling behind in its efforts to prepare for Brexit.

It asked the Minister for Business and Industry, Richard Harrington MP, for his urgent clarification on what actions the government and the ONR are taking to mitigate any risks.

It also called for his assessment of whether the current rate of progress will allow the UK to assume legal responsibility for its own nuclear safeguards regime from the 30th of March 2019.

The letter follows the recent leak of an ONR risk register to the media, which suggested progress was lacking in a number of areas, including the development of an IT system to track nuclear material, inspector recruitment and training and the ease of securing necessary funding and equipment.

The letter said: “In light of recent media reporting based on an internal risk register produced by the ONR, we have concerns about whether progress can indeed be described as ‘good’.

“Given the potentially severe consequences of a lack of progress in this area, we ask that you address the issues we raise below and look forward to your urgent reply.”

A BEIS spokesperson told ELN: “The government has made significant progress in preparing to leave Euratom to ensure safeguards are in place from day one.

“The Nuclear Safeguards Bill is making good progress through Parliament and we continue to work closely with the ONR to ensure we continue to have a robust regime in place.”

The ONR added: “The ONR is working with the UK Government to help ensure a smooth transition of nuclear safeguards arrangements to the UK from Euratom, through the implementation of a UK State System of Accountancy for and Control of nuclear material which meets government expectations and international obligations.”

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