The UK nuclear energy review has been ordered because of several explosions and radiation leaks at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan, when the nuclear reactors’ cooling systems failed following the devastating earthquake that struck the northeast coast of the country last week. Workers at the plant have been battling for days now to bring the crisis under control, but have so far failed. Fears are now growing about the effects of the radiation leaks on the wider population.
Huhne said "The tragic events in Japan are still unfolding. We should not rush to judgment. It is important that we have the full facts at our disposal. I have asked the Chief Nuclear Inspector for a full report so that the implications for the UK are clear."
The Energy Secretary’s comments were made as Government ministers met with representatives of the nuclear energy industry in London. They follow the decision by the German Government this week to shut down eight nuclear power plants that began operating before 1980 for at least three months, in order to carry out safety checks. It also suspended a decision taken in the autumn to prolong the working life of all 17 of the country's nuclear facilities beyond 2021.
In addition to that, Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday said that she could make a swifter than anticipated move away from nuclear power, by focusing its energy policy on ramping up renewable energy.
Merkel yesterday defended the decision, telling the German parliament that nuclear energy should be regarded as a bridging technology that will only be used while the country builds up sufficient renewable energy capacity. However, Merkel fell short to say whether the government would restart any of the closed plants after the three-month moratorium period.
Rumours abound that German utilities are considering launching legal proceedings following the shutdown of the eight nuclear plants, although none have yet confirmed or denied the speculation.
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