U.K. Publishes Nuclear Safeguards Bill for Post-Brexit Period

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The U.K. published draft legislation to create a domestic nuclear safeguards system that will replace provisions under the European Union’s Euratom treaty once Britain has left the bloc. 

The law aims to give certainty to the nuclear industry and sectors such as health care that Britain will maintain a stringent system of checks over radioactive materials after Brexit. The legislation became necessary after government deemed it impossible to withdraw from the EU without also leaving Euratom, putting in doubt everything from the transport of nuclear fuels to cancer treatments.

“We are bringing forward the U.K.’s first new nuclear power plants in a generation, and it is in our mutual benefit to maintain the successful working relationship we have now with Europe and the rest of the world on nuclear matters,” Energy Minister Richard Harrington said in a statement. “This is what we will be looking to secure in negotiations with our partners.”

Electricite de France SA has already begun work on a new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point in southwest England. Japanese utilities Hitachi Ltd. and Toshiba Corp. also plan new reactors in Britain.

No time line has yet been set for the passage of the law through Parliament, but it needs to be enacted before Britain’s scheduled departure from both the EU and Euratom in March 2019. Euratom’s main function is to account for nuclear material so it remains in peaceful uses.

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