Nuclear workers’ leaders have welcomed a cross-party amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill aimed at protecting the industry after Brexit.
The sector is voicing increasing concern over the UK’s withdrawal from the Euratom nuclear safety treaty in 2019 as a result of Brexit.
Euratom (the European Atomic Energy Community) was established in 1957 to enable a single market of goods and services for nuclear projects as well as to create trade deals.
Government plans to safeguard the nuclear industry through the transition were published in parliament earlier this week.
The Nuclear Safeguards Bill aims to secure the future of the UK’s nuclear industry by establishing a domestic safeguards regime to deliver existing Euratom standards.
Mike Clancy, general secretary of Prospect – the largest union for nuclear engineers and specialists – said: “Leaving Euratom presents real danger to the UK nuclear sector. The sector provides thousands of highly skilled, highly productive jobs as well as playing a vital role in keeping the lights on.
“There is no convincing case for leaving Euratom; however, if we are leaving, time is now running out for the Government to set out a proper action plan to deal with nuclear co-operation, funding and safeguarding.
“Prospect members will be urging MPs to support this sensible, cross-party amendment that will provide reassurance that Britain’s nuclear industry won’t face a damaging cliff edge.”
Labour MP Mary Creagh, a supporter of the Open Britain group, said: “We were promised that Brexit would be quick, easy and pain-free. But now parts of our nuclear industry are activating plans to prepare for a destructive ‘no-deal’ Brexit that would end nuclear co-operation between the UK and the EU.
“This would disrupt our energy supply and endanger cancer treatments. Nobody voted for that devastating outcome in the referendum. The Government urgently needs to rethink its extreme and damaging decision to pull out of Euratom, and act immediately to prevent nuclear co-operation suffering a Brexit no deal nightmare.”
Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said: “Without alternative or transitional arrangements in place it will be difficult to move nuclear materials and components to and from the UK.
“In order to mitigate risk, businesses will be looking at how they can protect their operations, if we are faced with a cliff edge in March 2019.”