Sheffield University expert calls for new nuclear plants

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A PROFESSOR from Sheffield is calling for the UK not to halt plans to build a new generation of nuclear power stations - despite the nuclear disaster in Japan.

Prof Neil Hyatt, of the department of materials science and engineering at The University of Sheffield, spoke out in the wake of explosions at the Fukushima nuclear plant, sparked by an earthquake and tsunami which have devastated huge swathes of Japan.

While environmental campaigners today called for a re-think of plans to build new nuclear reactors in the UK, Prof Hyatt told The Star: “The current Japanese nuclear emergency should not cast a shadow over building new nuclear stations in the UK.

“The UK is not an earthquake-prone location and the proposed new fleet of reactors does not require diesel generators to keep coolant flowing through the core, which failed in the Fukushima reactors.

“In the UK, much more of concern is the safe and rapid decommissioning of our existing radioactive waste storage facilities, some of which are in a highly hazardous state.”

Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary Chris Huhne has said the UK will be looking at the lessons that can be learned from Japan, and added: “I have called on the Chief Nuclear Inspector, Dr Mike Weightman, for a thorough report on the implications of the situation in Japan.”

The Lib Dems had opposed a new generation of nuclear power plants in the UK, but the Government believes they will form a key part of the UK’s energy mix in the future.

Last year the Government gave the green light to eight sites for new nuclear power plants.