Expert panel for seismic hazard and climate change appointed

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has established a panel of experts to advise the nuclear safety and security regulator on seismic hazard and climate change.

This was identified as a need before the tragic events at Fukushima, and ONR wanted to ensure the right people were selected to get quality, credible, independent advice.

The panel comprises eight academics specialising in one or more related areas, and have affiliations with the universities of Oxford, Durham, Exeter, East Anglia, Aberystwyth and Imperial College. An additional panel member is a specialist contractor with extensive experience of seismic hazard and its development by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

Seismic hazard has historically presented a challenge to nuclear facilities across the world, and both seismic and climate change are subjects that court public interest from time to time or as events occur worldwide. This is particularly relevant currently, as the public, operators and regulators alike examine the implications of events in Fukushima, Japan.

“The objective of this panel is to ensure that ONR has access to high quality and credible expertise in these technical areas, now and into the future,” explained Deputy Chief Inspector for Civil Nuclear Reactors, Colin Patchett, “This is important not only for all existing nuclear facilities, but also for the proposed new nuclear build programme.”

The remit for the panel is to provide high quality, credible and independent advice to support ONR’s own regulatory specialists in their decision making thus ensuring the ongoing protection of existing nuclear facilities and the proposed development of new nuclear power stations.

ONR has similar skills within the organisation, but this advisory panel will provide welcome additional input in a very detailed specialist area. The Regulator has a history of creating such expert panels for specific work, such as Dr Mike Weightman’s report to Government on Fukushima.

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