British PM urges nuclear expansion

The British prime minister Gordon Brown has called for a "more ambitious" expansion of the UK's atomic energy programme in order to cut oil dependence.

Brown said that the UK would be faced with high oil prices in the long term, and the country needs to do more than simply replace the current network of nuclear power stations that provide 20% of its electricity.

"We want to do more to diversify our supply of energy and that’s why I think we are pretty clear that we will have to do more than simply
replace existing nuclear capability in Britain," the Independent reported Brown as saying. "We will be more ambitious for our plans for
nuclear in the future."

But environmentalists have hit back at the plans. Friends of the Earth’s nuclear campaigner, Neil Crumpton, said talk of an expanded programme was highly unrealistic "considering the timescales and technical realities involved". He added: "It also leaves behind a deadly toxic legacy that will remain a threat for tens of thousands of years, and this has already cost the taxpayer over £70 billion."

In January, Britain’s National Audit Office said that the cost of decommissioning the country’s ageing power sites had risen from £12
billion (US$24 billion) to £73 billion ($144 billion). And the cost is now set to rise even further, reports say.

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