Brexit could be a big setback for nuclear energy in the United Kingdom. When the UK officially leaves the European Union, it might also be leaving the agency that oversees nuclear safety in EU member states, called Euratom, the Financial Times reports.
Quitting Euratom could interrupt the flow of nuclear fuel and ores from Europe and leave the UK’s nuclear power and radioactive waste management facilities largely unregulated. The UK has 15 nuclear reactors that produce about 21 percent of its electricity. It’s also home to a radioactive waste facility called Sellafield, which houses one of the world’s largest stockpiles of untreated nuclear waste.
Right now, Europe’s nuclear regulatory agency, the European Atomic Energy Community, or Euratom for short, inspects those facilities to ensure they meet nuclear safety standards. Euratom also checks that nuclear infrastructure is secure against possible attacks, and that materials aren’t secretly being used for weapons. Leaving Euratom would mean that the UK will have to beef up its Office of Nuclear Regulation to take on those roles, according to Politico.