UK abandons Euratom?

Thursday 13th July 2017

In May this year, UK’s  Manchester University showed graphene  to have a grip on heavy water, and there has been a strong case to presume that the UK and its Universities would remain within Euratom, whose signatories in 1957  include Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg the Netherlands and West Germany, at the same time as the Treaty establishing the European Economic  Union.

Advocates of Britain remaining in Euratom say it remains unclear what the bill will say about the treaty — if anything — and some members of Parliament, could revolt over the issue. Underlining those concerns, this week (right) Dominic Cummings, director of the campaign to leave the European Union, used Twitter to castigate what he labeled “government morons” who want to withdraw from the treaty.

Among those also expressing alarm is Dr. Nicola Strickland,  Royal College of Radiologists president. She points out that  Euratom regulates the trade of radioactive isotopes of the type used to diagnose and treat cancer. She has worries that access to these materials will  be undermined if Britain leaves that specific treaty. “The Royal College of Radiologists, like others in medicine and industry, is seriously concerned about continued access to these materials if we leave the Euratom treaty under Brexit,” Dr. Strickland stated. She also wants assurances that radiation safety laws and rules governing trade, enshrined in the Euratom treaty, would be continued.

The Nuclear Industry Association  spokesman Rupert Lewis which represents the British civil nuclear industry, noted that if Britain withdrew from Euratom, it could  well find itself sidelined from vital and lucrative nuclear trade agreements with the USA, Canada and Japan. Without such a replacement agreement,Britain’s trade in nuclear products and services could slow or  even halt, accordingly potentially threatening some of the 65,000 jobs in its nuclear sector.

The Union comprises Budapest, Warsaw, Bulgaria, Croatia. Czech, Denmark. Hungary, Poland, Romania and Sweden

As Wikopedia sets it out European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) signatories are Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, West Germany. It was signed on the 25 March 1957 at the same time as the Treaty establishing the European Economic Union

Finnish fusion research is integrated into the EU’s fusion research programme through a Contract of Association between Tekes and Euratom. The overall extent of fusion research funded by Tekes is currently around €5m pa, of which Tekes funds around €2m. Finland has participated in the EU fusion research cooperation in nationally selected research areas from the start, amassing special know-how for research and industry. Due to this, Finnish R&D and industry are in a good position concerning the R&D work required in ITER construction and services, and industrial deliveries and service agreements.

VTT’s research represents roughly half of Finnish fusion research. VTT concentrates on remote maintenance systems with TUT, new welding methods & welding robots in cooperation with Lappeenranta University of Technology, on materials research, magnetic diagnostics (MEMS magnetometers) and first wall diagnostics (smart tiles). Additionally, VTT participates in Euratom’s fusion experiments (JET and AUG) and performs massive calculations for fusion plasmas and plasma-material interactions. All these areas are very important for ITER construction, safety issues and the future experimental programme.

ITER demands a  great deal from new technology, being used to control fusion plasma burning at a Celcius temperature of 100m degrees. In addition to the EU, Japan, USA, Russia, China, India and South Korea are also participating in the Europe-driven ITER project. Fusion, if successful, will be a real energy option for the future, and significantly contribute to the sustainable energy mix of the future. 

Benefits of fusion energy are its almost unlimited fuel reserves and climate friendliness. ITER is also a huge technology development platform in many high-technology fields, increasing the competitiveness of Europe’s technology industry through new expertise.

The global ITER fusion reactor construction has been estimated to cost about €15bn from 2007-2020. Site preparations for the 500MW test reactor are completed, excavations started at Caradache, Southern France. Procurement arrangements for key components (magnets and the vacuum chamber) and architect-engineering contract for buildings have been signed.

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