Based at Culham in south Oxfordshire, the Joint European Torus (JET) project involves 350 scientists exploring the potential of fusion power, backed by funding from the EUROfusion consortium. waste in rural Oxfordshire. It centres on an EU-owned nuclear tokamak machine, currently the largest nuclear fusion experiment in the world. The future of the project is in doubt because Britain may end its membership of Euratom, Europe’s treaty framework for the safe civilian use of nuclear energy. Membership is required for participation in EUROfusion.
Euratom is legally separate from the EU but it is governed by EU institutions such as the European Commission, which oversees safety aspects. Britain’s plan to exit the EU would, according to EU lawyers, notify its intention to exit Euratom as well. “We have no idea what will happen to this … nuclear facility,” said one senior Brexit negotiator.
One important matter that is also uncertain – the future of 3000 cubic metres of radioactive waste in rural Oxfordshire. The decommissioning of the tokamak, is a potential flashpoint in Brexit negotiations, with the cost estimated at £289m.