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EDF Energy chief: No need for 'undue delay' in UK nuclear new build

EDF Energy chief executive Vincent de Rivaz has warned against “hasty decisions” to move away from nuclear new build in the UK.

He insisted the events in Japan do not change the need for nuclear power in the UK.

Mr de Rivaz said EDF Group and its co-investor Centrica expect to make a final investment decision on UK new build early next year.

EDF Energy’s managing director for nuclear new build Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson has met with the local authorities in Somerset, to talk about the progress being made with plans for Hinkley Point.

Mr de Rivaz was speaking after attending the Nuclear Development Forum meeting this afternoon chaired by energy secretary Chris Huhne, and attended by chief nuclear inspector Dr Mike Weightman and nuclear industry members.

In a statement he said EDF Energy held an extraordinary board meeting to “take stock” of recent events and set in place an immediate action plan to review the way its UK nuclear plants are run.

That plan will include:

  • An immediate check by EDF station directors of back up systems, over and above normal audit processes.
  • Organising refresher training for employees on use of EDF back up systems.
  • Initiating a review of the firm’s Emergency Plan, with particular focus on the impact on infrastructure disturbance.
  • Establishing formal arrangements to ensure that any learnings from Japan are fed into EDF Energy’s safety processes.

Mr de Rivaz said: “We should not, at this stage, make snap decisions about existing nuclear power stations until all the facts are known. 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 new nuclear should not be subject to undue delay.

“The world is watching what is happening in Japan. It is totally right that the nuclear incident unfolding at the moment should trigger so much attention and concern.”

He added that the group is making arrangements to ship 100 tonnes of boric acid to Japan, to help with cooling efforts, as well as providing potassium iodate tablets and preparing to mobilise staff.

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