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UK contractors look to Fukushima for nuclear decommissioning wins

The Prime Minister has signed a nuclear deal with the Japanese government which could see UK companies win work on multi-billion pound decomissioning contracts.

Speaking after a framework on civil nuclear cooperation was agreed between the countries, energy minister Charles Hendry said: “The UK has a wealth of expertise and experience in the area of nuclear decommissioning and waste management. I am in no doubt that cooperation with Japan in these areas will bring mutual benefits.

“This agreement will open up opportunities for UK firms to work with Japanese industry and to continue to share the UK’s world-class expertise, just as we did in the aftermath of Fukushima.”

The two governments have pledged to share expertise, experience and technology in the remediation, decontamination and decommissioning of the Fukushima nuclear site (see box).

The announcement comes two months after an agreement to work collaboratively on nuclear issues was agreed by the UK government with its French counterparts.

UK new nuclear plans suffered a setback in the past fortnight with the news that RWE npower and E.On were pulling out of the Horizon joint venture behind new nuclear plants.

The framework sets out a number of agreements:

Both countries reaffirm their commitment to working together in the field of civil nuclear energy, particularly in areas that are mutually beneficial. These include Japanese companies’ technical expertise in new plant design and construction, and the UK’s decommissioning and waste-management experience and technology;

Both countries will work closely on nuclear safety and share expertise on regulation;

The countries will share expertise, experience and technology in the remediation, decontamination and decommissioning of the Fukushima nuclear site; and

An annual dialogue will take place between senior UK and Japan officials across the full range of activities associated with civil nuclear energy.

Separately, the Nuclear Industry Association and the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum signed a memorandum of understanding to further industrial collaboration between companies from the UK and Japan.

The framework states: “To better address issues related to the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station, Japan and the UK affirm their intention to share expertise, experience and technology in remediation, decontamination, and decommissioning.

“This co-operation may include visits in both directions by officials, experts, operators and company representatives from relevant nuclear related agencies, organisations and companies from both countries.”

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