Sizewell C plans ‘not affected’ by Japan nuclear disaster

POWER giant EDF Energy has pledged to press ahead with its 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 the company, which hopes to build the third reactor at the Suffolk site, said lessons would be learned from Japan but it would not halt plans to develop new plants in the UK.

The area around the Fukushima plant is being evacuated as fears grow over radiation leaks after a series of fires and explosions following the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan last week.

Speaking at the Nuclear Development Forum yesterday, Mr de Rivaz, paid tribute to those caught up in the tragedy but insisted EDF would press ahead with its 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 believed 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.