The UK's nuclear industry is in no shape to cope with a large-scale reactor building programme and must be overhauled if the coalition wants to push ahead with its nuclear expansion plans, according to the former government chief scientist.
The industry is better equipped to manage the decline and decommissioning of existing nuclear plants, rather than set up new ones, a study led by Sir David King has concluded. If Britain is to deal with its nuclear waste, as well as build new reactors, then more wastemust be recycled.
But this would mean keeping open and even expanding the controversial Thorp reprocessing plant at Sellafield, which was shut down for more than two years, from 2005 to 2008, because of a serious, though contained, leak of radioactive liquid inside the plant. That was the longest of several shutdowns in recent years at the plant, which has been dogged with problems and has never run at full capacity.
"The structure of the UK nuclear industry, having been designed to address the rundown of nuclear power in the UK, is not well suited to the changed situation involving new nuclear build and an expanded UK nuclear role, and there is a need for realignment of policy across the sector," the report found.
Article courtesy of Fiona Harvey, The Guardian 29th March 2011: http://tinyurl.com/66g6wo2