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Delays foreseen for U.K. nuclear power

LONDON, June 24 (UPI) -- British energy supplier Centrica said to expect a delay in the construction of Britain's first new nuclear power plant because of the reactor failure in Japan.

A 9-magnitude earthquake and tsunami struck March 11 in Japan, causing catastrophic failures at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station. Major industrial nations have started taking a closer look at nuclear power in the wake of the disaster.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced eight of the country's 17 nuclear reactors would shut down immediately. The remaining plants would close by 2022. Italian voters passed a similar measure last week.

Centrica, Britain's largest energy supplier, said there will be delays in a nuclear power station set for a 2018 launch because of fears triggered by Japan's disaster, the Daily Telegraph newspaper in London reports.

"There will be a delay, we just don't know by how much," Sam Laidlaw, the company's chief executive, was quoted as saying.

Lawmakers have speculated that nuclear energy is needed to advance the low-carbon economy planned for the country. The U.S. Energy Department, for its parts, had said nuclear power would remain in the country's energy mix.

British Energy Secretary Chris Huhne told British lawmakers there was no reason not to proceed with nuclear power.

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