The German head of one of the U.K.’s top nuclear companies is counseling Prime Minister Theresa May’s government on what needs to be done to protect a global hub for the industry from Brexit.
With European Union leaders congregating on Saturday to celebrate the Treaty of Rome’s 60th anniversary, Urenco Ltd.’s Chief Executive Officer Thomas Haeberle said he’s cautiously optimistic that new rules can be negotiated to guarantee the flow of nuclear materials in and out of the U.K. after the nation leaves the bloc.
“We are making the U.K. government, which is also our shareholder, aware of the requirements our business needs to fulfill in the context of Brexit and of leaving Euratom,” said Haeberle, referring to the European Atomic Community, a part of the EU’s bedrock agreement signed on March 25, 1957.
Just as bankers have made London a global financial hub, nuclear workers have turned Britain into a central cog servicing the world’s flow of atomic materials. Urenco, the world’s second-biggest maker of reactor fuel, runs a factory in Capenhurst and oversees its global distribution network from Stoke Poges outside of London.
Haeberle, a German chemical engineer who worked at Evonik Industries AG before Urenco, said he’s less concerned at the possibility an enrichment facility in Gronau, Germany could be closed. Germany’s Environment Ministry said last month it was examining the possibility of shutting the facility. The country plans to exit from nuclear power altogether by early next decade.
“We don’t only produce there,” the CEO said. “We’re also developing technology, so Germany is very relevant for us. We are confident that this is going to stay as this is because we have an unlimited license. We are a well reputed company with clear and solid legal boundary conditions.”