The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has joined forces with the Japan Atomic Energy Agency to share expertise in nuclear decommissioning and radioactive waste management.

The NDA – which is responsible for cleaning up and decommissioning 17 sites in the UK including Sellafield in Cumbria – has signed an agreement that will see skills, knowledge, research, information and technology exchanged with the JAEA, Japan’s research and development institute for nuclear energy.

JAEA’s work includes undertaking research and development work to support the decommissioning and environmental restoration of TEPCO’s stricken Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power station. It is also aiding the decommissioning of the Monju fast breeder reactor and the Tokai Reprocessing Plant.

The new co-operation agreement signed by the two bodies this week, builds on previous arrangements made in 2008 as the NDA searches out latest techniques and technologies to help clean up its sites safely while delivering value for UK taxpayers.

The new agreement is also another signal of the NDA’s international reputation for tackling complex radioactive hazards, said its strategy and technology director, Adrian Simper.

“The UK nuclear industry, its people, suppliers and its approach to decommissioning has a fantastic pedigree and the NDA is eager to share its expertise with other countries for mutual benefit in progressing our decommissioning and hazard reduction missions,” he said.

“We have a long history of working closely alongside our Japanese counterparts – the continuation of this agreement is a natural progression of a long and productive relationship.”

Cumbria has played a key role in the development of nuclear relations between the UK and Japan, with strategic bodies and locally-based companies taking part in several trade missions in recent years, primarily to provide services and support for activity at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power station.

Cumbrian companies including REACT Engineering, Createc and James Fisher Nuclear have all won contracts in the country.

Exporting more decommissioning expertise to global markets is a key plank of the Centre of Nuclear Excellence initiative – which brings together a number of players in the Cumbria and UK industry.