Sizewell: Plans for new nuclear reactor to go-ahead in wake of Japanese tragedy

A POWER firm has pledged to press ahead with plans to build a new reactor at Sizewell C despite the nuclear nightmare that is unfolding at the Fukushima plant in Japan.

Vincent de Rivaz, chief executive of EDF – which hopes to build the third reactor at the Suffolk site – said lessons would be learnt from Japan but he voiced determination to progress with plans for new plants in the UK.

Residents are being evacuated from areas near the Fukushima plant as fears grow over radiation leaks after a series of fires and explosions following the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan last week.

Mr de Rivaz, speaking at the Nuclear Development Forum yesterday, paid tribute to those caught up in the tragedy but vowed the firm would press ahead with plans for new-builds.

“The world is watching what is happening in Japan,” he said. “It is a terrible human tragedy and our thoughts are with everyone affected by this disaster.

“The events in Japan do not change the need for nuclear in Britain.

“The critical task in front of us today is to deliver a secure, clean and affordable energy mix.”

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Mr de Rivaz said station directors at EDF’s plants in the UK were already checking back-up systems and formal arrangements were being made to make sure lessons from the Japanese situation are fed into the firm’s safety process.

But he added that the programme for new nuclear stations should not be delayed by the tragedy. “We should not, at this stage, make snap decisions about existing nuclear power stations until all the facts are known,” he said.

“Nor should we reach hasty decisions about nuclear new-build.

“While we understand the importance of adjusting the timetable to take into account the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate report, it is also equally important that establishing the framework for nuclear should not be subject to undue delay.”

But nuclear campaigner Pete Wilkinson, a co-opted member of the Sizewell Site Stakeholder Group, is demanding the Government abandons its plans to build a third reactor at Sizewell in the wake of the explosions, fires and radioactive leaks at the Japanese plant.

Mr Wilkinson, an environmental policy adviser, said a similar situation at Sizewell could lead to a collapse in the region’s economy.

“If this sort of accident were to happen at Sizewell, caused by a terrorist attack or any unforeseen circumstances which led to the requirement to impose such an exclusion zone, East Anglia would be thrown into chaos, house prices would plummet and the region’s economy would collapse,” he said.

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