POLITICS
11/10/2011 02:40 BST | Updated 10/12/2011 05:12 GMT

Government To Publish Nuclear Review, In Light Of Fukushima Disaster

The Government is to publish a review of the UK nuclear industry in the light of the Fukushima disaster, amid concerns it has pushed ahead with new reactors before lessons could be learned from Japan.

The review by nuclear chief inspector Dr Mike Weightman was commissioned in the wake of the crisis which began when the Fukushima nuclear plant on the Japanese coast was hit by a tsunami following the magnitude nine earthquake in March.

Following the publication of the interim findings of the inquiry in May, the Government signalled that plans for a new generation of nuclear plants were on track.

And in June, the Department of Energy and Climate Change confirmed eight sites it considers suitable for new nuclear plants, which ministers say are necessary to keep the lights on and cut carbon from energy generation, all of which are adjacent to existing reactors.

The interim findings of the review by Dr Weightman ruled out the need for the UK to curtail the operation of nuclear power stations in light of the situation in Japan.

Dr Weightman said the possibility of similar natural events, which the earthquake and 14-metre tsunami batter the Japanese coast, were not "credible" in the UK. He also said existing and planned nuclear power stations in this country were of a different design to those at Fukushima, which were rocked by explosions and damage to the reactors after the tsunami shut down power to the plants, knocking out their cooling facilities.

And flooding risks were unlikely to prevent construction of new nuclear power stations at potential development sites in the UK, all of which are on the coast, he said.

The interim report recommended 25 areas for review by the Government, industry and regulators, to determine if there are any measures which could improve safety in the UK nuclear industry.

But Greenpeace has raised a number of concerns about the inquiry, including that it has been conducted too fast to learn the lessons from the crisis, with information still emerging, and that there has been a lack of transparency. And the green group is pursuing a judicial review over the Government's decision to green-light the new nuclear reactors before the final report was published.

Last week between 100 and 200 people blockaded Hinkley Point power station in Somerset in protest against EDF Energy's plans to renew the site with two new reactors