LONDON, March 31 EDF Energy has poured
the concrete for some of the first permanent structures at its
Hinkley Point C nuclear project site in Britain after getting
the go-ahead from the nuclear regulator earlier this week, the
company said on Friday.
Britain's first new nuclear plant to be built in decades has
been plagued by delays. Critics of the 18 billion pound ($22.4
billion) project have focussed on the guaranteed price for
electricity, which they say does not reflect falling energy
prices since the deal was drawn up.
However, Britain's Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR)
finally gave consent for work to start at the Hinkley site in
southwest England on Monday.
Concerns have also arisen about the reactors which will be
supplied by Areva. Last week, an internal document by
the ONR said the safety culture at Areva's Creusot Forge in
France fell short of expectations and warned about the
implications for Hinkley.
EDF Energy said on Friday concrete has been poured for
Hinkley's power station galleries, a network of connected
tunnels which will carry cabling and pipes.
Construction of the first reactor at the plant is scheduled
to start in 2019 when concrete will be poured for the first time
to make the reactor platform, it added.
"Pouring the concrete for the first permanent structure of
HPC is a significant milestone," Hinkley Point C project
director Philippe Bordarier said in a statement.
"It demonstrates our ability to undertake the serious
responsibility of nuclear power plant construction," he added.
EDF Energy said 1,600 workers are on the site each day.
Other work includes excavating soil and rock to prepare the
ground for the power station buildings; constructing tower
cranes for building work, accommodation buildings for workers
and a temporary jetty.
EDF is building the plant with China General Nuclear Power
Corporation (CGN), which has a 33.5 percent stake. It is
expected to generate 3.2 gigawatts of electricity, enough to
meet about 7 percent of Britain's demand.
The plant is due to start producing power in around 2025.
($1 = 0.8028 pounds)
(Reporting by Nina Chestney; editing by Alexander Smith)