Energy firm to decide on divisive UK nuclear power plant

BySylvie Corbet, Associated Press

In this Tuesday, Feb 5, 2013 file photo, the EDF tower of French state-owned power giant Electricite de France (EDF), is seen in the La Defense business district, west of Paris. French energy company EDF is due to decide whether to go ahead with a major nuclear power plant project in southwest England that some consider too costly. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon, File)

PARIS (AP) — French energy company EDF is due to decide Thursday whether to go ahead with a major nuclear power plant project in southwest England that some consider too costly, including one board member who announced his resignation.

As the company's board was meeting, unions argued that the 24 billion euro ($27 billion) cost of the investment could put the overall company at risk. They have taken legal action to try to delay the project.

Environmental activists oppose the project at a time when some countries, like Germany, are moving away from nuclear energy.

EDF is majority-owned by the French government, which supports the Hinkley Point power plant project. The two reactors could ultimately produce 7 percent of British electricity and create 25,000 jobs, according to EDF.

One board member resigned Thursday to express disapproval of the project.

Gerard Magnin, who was among six people representing the French state on the EDF board, wrote in a letter that the AP was able to read: "I don't want to endorse any longer a strategy that I don't share."

EDF did not immediately comment on Magnin's resignation and the ongoing board meeting.

In March, one of EDF's senior vice presidents had also resigned. French media reported that Thomas Piquemal quit over concerns about the financing of the nuclear power plant.

John Sauven, executive director at Greenpeace, warned the U.K. government not to sign the deal.

EDF "can barely hold itself together," he said in a statement. "Major figures are quitting in dissent, the company's employees are up in arms and a similar reactor being built in France is under investigation by the French nuclear regulator."

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