Japanese company TEPCO, who are charged with decontaminating the Fukushima plant which was devastated by a tsunami in 2011, has signed an historic co-operation statement with UK nuclear operator Sellafield Ltd.

The agreement is the first step in enabling formal arrangements for the transfer of knowledge and experience between TEPCO and Sellafield Ltd, the company responsible for cleaning up the Europe’s most complex nuclear site, in Cumbria. It will give TEPCO access to the skills available from SMEs engaged in the Sellafield Ltd supply chain and provide access for the UK to advancements made at Fukushima over the coming years.

It is due to be signed at the Imperial College at a ceremony attended by Ed Davey, Secretary of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, who is in London this week on a state visit.

The co-operation statement was brokered by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), the government agency responsible for the clean-up of the UK’s civil nuclear legacy, and owner of the Sellafield site. The NDA lead the UK’s response to theFukushima incident, facilitating the availability of equipment and expertise from Sellafield and other UK nuclear operators.

The co-operation statement builds on that foundation by beginning to formalise a working relationship between Sellafield and the Japanese.

Sellafield Ltd Managing Director, Tony Price, heralded the agreement as a major step forward for the company and the wider UK nuclear industry.

He said: “We have much that we can help the Japanese with initially, as they move their focus from power generationto cleaning up and decommissioning.

“But the technical expertise of the Japanese is renowned the world over, they are experts in design and manufacturing and, judging by their past performance on everything from motorcycles to nuclear reprocessing –once they start decommissioning in earnest there will be much that they can teach us.

“What this co-operation statement will do is formalise a working relationship which has existed for 60 years, between the UK nuclear industry and the Japanese, and it opens up channels for us to work more closely together now and in the future.”