MOSCOW, May 27 (RIA Novosti) – Several British nuclear industry professionals have criticized the national Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) for bias and entering into a conflict of interest while receiving technical advice from nuclear companies it was supposed to monitor, The Independent reported Tuesday.
"It’s so obvious that this is a conflict of interest, it’s such a straightforward conflict of interest. This is indefensible," said Dr. David Lowry, a member of Nuclear Waste Advisory Associates, according to the newspaper.
The nuclear watchdog, which oversees sites across the country and has only recently become independent from the national health regulator, has been consulting with engineering giants such as the US Jacobs Group and the UK’s Amec, among others, the report said.
Should the regulator implement biased advice from companies with interests in the industry and the UK, it could put all of the country's reactors in danger, critics say.
In April, ONR signed a five-year deal with Jacobs, which is involved in the construction of the Trident nuclear defense deterrent, to receive help in assessing external hazards, decontamination of existing nuclear sites and future reactor designs, according to the paper.
Amec, which looks after a nuclear reprocessing site on the Irish Sea, advises on reactor chemistry and radiation protection. The Arup consultancy and construction firm Sir Robert McAlpine, which together have worked on more than a dozen British nuclear plants, help with civil engineering issues.
The ONR representatives said the advisers were never the same people as potential licensees, but professionals in the area too few to be readily found outside of the nuclear companies.
The UK relies on 16 nuclear reactors to provide 18 percent of its electricity, according to the World Nuclear Association. Most of them will retire by 2023, when several new-generation plants with higher capacity are expected to be launched.