Japan Fukushima nuclear crisis should prompt rethink on new nuclear power in UK – Jo

During Prime Minister’s Questions today, Jo Swinson raised the safety of nuclear power stations following the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

Following the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami on 11th March, Japanese authorities have been struggling to stabilise the Fukushima power plant in the north-east of Japan. After expressing her condolences for the Japanese people, Jo asked the Prime Minister whether he agreed that events at Fukushima will have consequences for proposed nuclear power stations in the UK.

The Prime Minister echoed Jo’s tribute to the Japanese people, and gave an assurance that Britain would learn any lessons necessary from the disaster. The Government has asked the country’s chief nuclear inspector to report back on safety standards.

Commenting, Jo said:

“With warnings today about heightened radiation in Tokyo’s water supply, the consequences of Japan’s deadly earthquake and tsunami serve as a serious reminder of the danger inherent in nuclear power generation.

“Whilst I am pleased that investigations are being carried out into the UK’s nuclear safety, earthquakes and tsunamis are not the only disasters that can threaten the cooling systems of nuclear reactors. The Fukushima disaster highlights the importance of investing in renewable energy sources and improving energy efficiency to pave the way for a safe and secure low-carbon future.”

  • The full text of Jo’s question to the Prime Minister and his response is as follows:

Q2. [48223] Jo Swinson (East Dunbartonshire) (LD): Our hearts go out to the people of Japan as we watch their horror unfold and see warnings today about heightened radiation in Tokyo’s water supply. It is not just earthquakes and tsunamis that can threaten the cooling systems of nuclear reactors, so does the Prime Minister agree that what has happened at Fukushima will have consequences for the new nuclear power stations proposed for the UK?

The Prime Minister: I am sure that the whole House will want to join the hon. Lady in sending our condolences to people in Japan and to express our admiration for their incredible bravery and resilience in dealing with this immense crisis. Of course we must learn any lessons that need to be learned about nuclear power, which is why the head of the nuclear safety inspectorate is looking at this issue. As I have said before, the power stations we have in Britain are of a different type from those in Japan. We are not planning to build any like those, and we are not in an earthquake zone or a zone subject to tsunamis, but of course we have always got to test against all eventualities. I am sure that there is further testing we can do on nuclear power.

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