The UK government has, as of Tuesday, signed a deal with Japan to lease its expertise in nuclear decommissioning and waste clean-up, in return for knowledge from some of the world’s greatest builders of nuclear reactors.
The United Kingdom has always been good at what is in all fairness, a very dirty and taboo industry, that of managing nuclear waste and disposing of it as safely and environmentally friendly as possible, with 19 sites currently active in the sector. It’s an odd expertise to have given the relatively small presence of nuclear in the country, but it’s nonetheless a lucrative and much-needed business to be in, with over 10,000 cubic metres of radioactive waste produced annually.
Albeit, it was until the recent spate of nuclear fear and money issues caused the closing of hundreds of plants worldwide and the pulling out of major builds, including in the UK itself, as governments rethought their stance on the splitting of atoms. I mentioned very briefly in a post earlier in this blog’s lifetime that the shying away of the world from nuclear would likely harm our prospects as the ‘glowing-green’ waste cleaners of the globe, and could lose us a lot of money.
Whether this was the case I am unsure, but this new agreement may come at a time when money and foreign expertise is in high demand. The deal will allow the Japanese to offload much of the waste and ready-to-be decommissioned plants it has left over from the closure of all 54 of its sites (last to shut this May) following Fukushima to the UK, which will stick it somewhere in the ground and aid in controlling the resultant radioactivity.
In return, we get the technical expertise and knowledge of the Japanese nuclear industry, who will help build newer, cleaner, more efficient reactors in both nations, with a multi-billion pound price-tag at stake. Considering the Japanese have some of the most advanced reactor designs (that’s not including the 1960s Fukushima-Daiichi plant) and the fact that a large gap in energy production must be filled now that RWE and e.on have bailed from their UK build, it seems like a deal laden with positives.