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Technology has moved on

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Nuclear reactor technology has moved on considerably from the Magnox plants built in the 1950s and 1960s. Instead of cooling the reactors with gas, pressurised water is the medium of modern equipment, as used in Sizewell B in the late 1980s.

Since then natural recirculation techniques have been developed that minimise the need for pipework and mechanical infrastructure. The result is that these plants, such as the Westinghouse AP1000 and the Arriva EPR, take less time to build and produce up to 90% less waste.

'Construction of new plant compares very favourably to 10 years ago, ' said Anderson.

'There is no question that it is a completely different technology, it has moved on a lot. In China they can do the whole lot within five years. If they can do it there, there is no reason why we can't do it in the West. Technically we are just as astute, ' says Anderson.

The economics of construction and supply mean that building just one plant would not be viable and the industry would seek to find economies of scale by building a new fleet.

Engineers estimate a minimum of four would be required.

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