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Normandy reactor is delayed again

EPR project in Flamanville, near Cherbourg, now estimated for 2016 because of extra safety tests

PLANS to open a new next-generation nuclear reactor in Normandy have been delayed by another two years, adding an extra €1bn to the cost.

EDF has announced another delay in the project to build the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) at a plant in Flamanville on the coast near Cherbourg.

The new 1,650 megawatt reactor was first scheduled to start operating in 2012. This was pushed back to 2014 last year, and the new estimate is 2016.

The cost of the project has doubled since it was first unveiled and now stands at €6bn.

EDF said the delay was because of extra safety tests following the Fukushima atomic disaster in Japan earlier this year.

The reactor is supposed to be a showcase for the new EPR technology that EDF wants to export to the UK, US, China and beyond.

Nuclear power has helped to boost jobs in Flamanville, with 600 people employed on the construction site.

But the disaster in Japan, which was brought on by a devastating tsunami, has prompted debate over the risk of power plants, radiation and contamination.

The mayor of Bricquebec, near Flamanville, Henri-Louis Védie, says he is a strong supporter of nuclear power "so long as it is safe".

Photo: Morad HEGUI - Fotolia.com

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