Britain must learn from Japan nuclear crisis - Huhne

LONDON Sun Mar 13, 2011 2:58pm GMT

A helicopter flies past Japan's Fukushima Daiichi No.1 Nuclear reactor March 12, 2011. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

A helicopter flies past Japan's Fukushima Daiichi No.1 Nuclear reactor March 12, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain should learn from the Japanese nuclear crisis, even if the country leading a European push to build new nuclear plants over the next decade is not at risk of large earthquakes, energy minister Chris Huhne said on Sunday.

"We take this incident extremely seriously even though there is no reason to expect a similar scale of seismic activity in the UK," Huhne said in a statement.

"I have called on the Chief Nuclear Inspector, Dr. Mike Weightman for a thorough report on the implications of the situation in Japan and the lessons to be learned."

Huhne, who heads the department responsible for ensuring Britain's energy supplies while cutting emissions of climate-warming carbon, said it was essential to understand the implications for Britain's existing and planned reactors of the Japanese crisis in which a major earthquake and ensuing tsunami threatened possible meltdowns.

"I want to make sure that we are absolutely looking at the Japanese experience and applying all of the lessons that we need and can apply because safety is our number one concern," Liberal Democrat Huhne, who before being appointed UK energy minister as part of a coalition government was a nuclear sceptic, told the BBC.

"Public opinion obviously is going to be very influenced by the investigation (in Japan) and the investigation is absolutely crucial," Huhne told "The Politics Show," adding that Britain's reactors were of a different type.

"Of course there is a very big difference in that we are frankly amazingly lucky that we don't live in a seismically active earthquake zone like Japan," he said.

(Reporting by Daniel Fineren and Adrian Croft; Editing by Louise Heavens)

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