Chemistry remains central to the clean-up and continuation of nuclear R&D, a panel of experts including the government's chief scientific adviser heard today.
Professor Sir John Beddington, the keynote speaker at a Royal Society of Chemistry symposium, told the gathering of policy-makers and academics in Tokyo of the importance of international scientific collaboration, using the example of his role in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster in communicating and managing risk.
Professor Beddington, chair of the UK Government nuclear advisory board that is reviewing nuclear R&D in the UK and who will be developing a roadmap by the end of this year, said the UK is committed to addressing proliferation resistance and physical protection of nuclear material.
Professor Neil Hyatt, Royal Academy of Engineering Research Chair from the University of Sheffield and representing the RSC, told the audience that chemistry has a multifaceted role in the research and development required to deliver national priorities such as establishing and maintaining a secure, reliable and low carbon energy economy by 2050, in parallel with achieving a legally binding commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% compared to 1990 levels.
Professor Hyatt added: "Vital to achieving scientific advances, such as the extension and maintenance of nuclear capacity and ensuring the independent safe regulation of nuclear installations, is the development of skilled individuals in nuclear chemical sciences at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, as exemplified by the Nuclear First Doctoral Training Centre."
The symposium, hosted in conjunction with the Chemical Society of Japan, follows yesterday's announcement in Tokyo by the British and Japanese governments of a Framework on Civil Nuclear Cooperation.
RSC President Professor David Phillips said one of the world's most pressing challenges remains creating and securing environmentally sustainable energy supplies and improving the efficiency of power generation, transmission and use.
Professor Phillips added: "Following events at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, it is important that we come together as an international scientific community to discuss the future direction of innovation and growth in that sector.
"Chemical scientists have a leading role to play in nuclear energy generation but also in safe decommissioning and waste management. There is no doubt that chemistry will play a transformative role in the decades ahead in addressing the grand challenges which face humanity."