CHESHIRE-BASED award recipient Mike Weightman, who is Her Majesty’s chief inspector of nuclear installations, was standing on top of a reactor at Japan’s failed Fukushima power plant just a fortnight ago.
But Dr Weightman, who has just received the Order of the Bath for services to the improvement of nuclear safety, says there is no need to fear for his well-being.
“I didn’t get a high radiation dose because a lot of work has been done to contain things,” said Dr Weightman, who lives in Tattenhall with wife Liz.
Dr Weightman, who is executive head of the Bootle-based Office for Nuclear Regulation, wrote a report for government on the implications of Fukushima for the UK nuclear industry.
Reassuringly, he says the seismic conditions which led to the Japanese nuclear disaster would never arise here.
“We don’t get earthquakes of that size. While we were out in Japan we experienced four earthquakes of a size that would be very rare in the UK and they were not at all damaging. We are in the middle of tectonic plate not on the edge of one like they are. Any tsunami would be a lot smaller.”
Dr Weightman, 63, who has sons Will, 30, and Tom, 27, said of his gong: “I think it’s quite an honour and reflects also, in particular, on my wife Liz who has supported me over all these years.”
He said Liz is a retired computer scientist who at one point had worked for Shell at Stanlow.
In charge of a 450-strong workforce, including 220 highly qualified inspectors, Dr Weightman said the ONR, an agency of the Health and Safety Executive, was responsible for the security and safety of the nuclear industry.
“I lead the organisation, so the big decisions about the industry come to me”, he added. “We recently granted the nuclear licence for Hinkley C.”
Asked whether nuclear power was safe, he answered: “We would not let it operate if we didn’t believe it was safe.”