UK facing the challenge of finding nuclear inspectors

Published: 07 Nov 2017 By Matt Cook

 

The British Government is facing the challenge of securing enough talent within the nuclear inspection sector before the UK leaves the EU.

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The office of nuclear regulation recently employed four new safety inspectors but has highlighted the requirement for additional time to find further professionals for more specialised positions within the nuclear sector.

Richard Harrington, the Nuclear Minister, has emphasised that the UK is committed to leaving the agency Euratom, which regulates the European nuclear industry.

Energy experts have voiced concerns over the potential disruption to energy generation if a new replacement agency is not in place before Brexit. Further analysis from industry experts suggests there will be little benefit to the nuclear industry by leaving Euratom.

Richard Harrington believes the replacement service will be developed to close the current system operated by Euratom. Mina Golshan, the deputy chief inspector at Office for Nuclear Regulation, is managing the development of the proposed new service. Mina Golshan is confident that all safety-related requirements will be met, by the time the UK leaves the EU.

Despite confidence in a replacement scheme, Mina Golshan has admitted there are time constraints, and developing an individual service for the UK before 2019, will be particularly challenging. Mina believes the biggest challenge will be hiring new safety inspectors from a rather limited level of expertise within the nuclear sector.

Whilst Mr. Harrington remains confident of the recruitment process, the Office for Nuclear Regulation believe there it will be challenging to find experienced, British nuclear scientists to fill the employment gap. Further shortages of skilled engineers, welders, and steelworkers have also been suggested by other government members.

Nuclear professionals have suggested the inclusion of specialist visas for nuclear workers to allow companies to continue recruiting professionals from the EU post-brexit. A post-Brexit visa service would only be viable with support from the British Government. Other concerns have been raised towards the stability of the global leading nuclear fusion centre, in Oxfordshire, which receives substantial funding from the EU. Experts have voiced concerns over how the relationship between the UK and EU will change post-Brexit and how this will impact on collaborative research projects.

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