Poland has joined the OECD's Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), while the UK has said it is thinking of leaving.
The agency, for the 29 countries that are members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, conducts research on nuclear safety, regulation, technology and law. All of this is intended to aid the member governments in their use and understanding of nuclear energy.
Poland's entry to the body will allow it to draw on these resources, as well as contribute by supplying its own experts. The country is putting together a comprehensive plan to become a user of nuclear energy with two reactors beginning operation from 2022.
Leading this effort for the Polish Ministry of Economy is Hanna Trojanowska. She said, "NEA membership will help Poland realise the nuclear power program, which is the biggest industrial project in Poland since the Second World War."
One in one out?
The UK caused surprise at a 20 October meeting of the NEA steering committee when its representative declared the country's unwillingness to fund its contribution from central budgets.
Britain said it would soon file an official letter of intent to withdraw from the NEA by the end of 2011, although this has not yet been received. Should the country find a new way to fund its contribution to the NEA, it said, the letter would be withdrawn.
Such a withdrawal would be remarkable considering that the NEA counts non-nuclear countries like Austria, Denmark, Iceland, Ireland, Greece, Norway and Portugal as members.
The UK currently pays €1.2 million ($1.6 million) per year to the agency and this would be "quite a substantial loss for the budget," an NEA official told World Nuclear News. However, the worst part would be to lose some 200 British nuclear experts working on NEA programs.
This contribution currently comes from the Department of Energy and Climate Change, which is talking to other nuclear-related bodies and departments in an effort to shift the spending from its own budget as 'austerity' measures bite.
NEA director general Luis Echávarri comfirmed that funding is the main issue regarding Britain's membership and that he is optimistic a solution will be found.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News