The government has expressed confidence that the UK will have enough nuclear safeguarding inspectors when it exits the Euratom arrangements as part of Brexit next March.
In its latest quarterly update on the UK’s steps to exit Euratom, the EU-linked nuclear safeguarding regime, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) says 13 safeguards officers are being trained by the Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR) with another due to join the organisation shortly.
The ONR, which estimates that it needs a minimum of nine inspectors to deliver an internationally compliant domestic safeguards regime, says it is “confident” that it will have the “necessary number” to enable the UK to meet its international obligations.
The precise number will depend on the exact requirements of the domestic regime to be set out in regulations.
Legislation empowering the government to set up a domestic nuclear safeguard regime received Royal Assent last week. The government published the regulations governing the new regime for consultation yesterday (9 July).
According to the update, the government has also agreed the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the Euratom nuclear safeguarding arrangements.
It states that the UK and EU have agreed on all Euratom related articles in the draft withdrawal agreement, allowing the relevant text to be finalised.
The final sticking point related to the rights of the Euratom community over material, which belongs to the rest of the EU but is held in the UK, when it exits.
Richard Harrington, junior industry minister, said: “The Nuclear Safeguards Act is one of the first pieces of legislation to go through parliament in preparation for EU exit and is yet another major milestone in our work to prepare the civil nuclear industry for Euratom exit, ensuring continuity from day one.
“We are setting out proposals for the detail of our own UK framework for safeguards, demonstrating our readiness for EU exit.”