Nuclear power boost for Hartlepool

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NUCLEAR power plants, including Hartlepool, can go on supplying energy to homes in the UK after the findings of a top-level review.

Energy Secretary Chris Huhne spoke out after the publication of a report on the Fukushima disaster, which found no reason to curb the use of reactors here.

The review, led by chief nuclear inspector Mike Weightman, examined the lessons which could be learned for the UK industry from the crisis at the Japanese reactor when it was hit by a magnitude nine earthquake and subsequent tsunami in March.

Following the publication of interim findings in May, the Government signalled that a new generation of UK nuclear power plants, which ministers say are necessary to keep the lights on and cut carbon, was on track.

The Government has also confirmed eight sites – including Hartlepool – it believes are suitable for new nuclear plants, all of which are adjacent to existing reactors.

Mr Huhne published the final review, which found that there was no reason to curtail the operation of nuclear sites operating in the UK, and said: “The report makes clear that the UK has one of the best nuclear safety regimes in the world, and that nuclear power can go on powering homes and businesses across the UK, as well as supporting jobs.

“We must, however, continue to improve where we can, not just with operating power stations and new sites, but by dealing with our nuclear legacy in a robust and efficient manner too.”

Vincent de Rivaz, chief executive of EDF Energy, owners of the nuclear power station in Hartlepool, said: “The report demonstrates the importance of strong, expert regulation and will provide valuable input to the process of continuous improvement.

“We will review Dr Weightman’s findings in detail and build them into our plans.

“We have already committed to implementing his recommendations for us in full.”

In June this year, the Government confirmed Hartlepool was one of eight sites where new nuclear power plants could be built.

It would employ around 450 highly-skilled people with 3,000 workers needed to build it over five years. The plant could generate enough energy to power 1.5m homes.

The others approved are: Sizewell, Suffolk; Bradwell, Essex; Heysham, Lancashire; Hinkley Point, Somerset; Oldbury, South Gloucestershire; Sellafield, Cumbria, and Wylfa, Anglesey.