May deadline for UK nuclear review

By staff

Energy secretary Chris Huhne has asked chief nuclear inspector to report on Britain’s nuclear safety by mid-May.

The request comes as Japanese authorities increased the alert level at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear crisis to level five, signifying an “accident with wider consequences”.

Following a meeting of the Nuclear Development Council, Mr Huhne announced a final report would be published within six months but that an interim assessment would be released in just two months’ time.

“The tragic events in Japan are still unfolding. We should not rush to judgment,” Mr Huhne said.

“It is important that we have the full facts at our disposal… Safety is and will continue to be the number one priority for existing nuclear sites and for any new power stations.”

The Department for Energy and Climate Change is set to reassess the nuclear national policy statement in the light of the emerging crisis in Japan, following last week’s earthquake and tsunami.

Yukiya Amano, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has described the struggle to avoid meltdown at the nuclear plant’s six reactors as a “race against the clock”.