MP adds to calls for inquiry into China’s nuclear role
ANOTHER senior Tory MP has called for an inquiry into Chinese involvement in Britain’s nuclear power stations amid rising concerns over the Hinkley Point C mega-project.
Neil O’Brien said that urgent questions must be answered following conflicting reports about work by state-owned contractor China General Nuclear (CGN) on the £22.5bn scheme.
The firm’s role was originally thought to be limited to financial investment, but there are questions over its actions following an investigation by The Sunday Telegraph.
Mr O’Brien said that US regulators were already taking aim at CGN and another business, China National Nuclear Corporation, after the American department of defence accused them of having ties to Beijing’s military forces.
He said: “Both CGN and China National Nuclear Corporation have a kind of regulatory sword of Damocles hanging over their heads. That is something I’ve talked to people about getting more on top of.” French company EDF – which is CGN’s partner at Hinkley – insisted yesterday that the Chinese business was not closely involved in managing the project. An EDF spokesman denied claims by sources that the firm had been left aghast when CGN technicians suggested dangling a 270-tonne concrete dome over site workers to lift it into place.
He said: “The role of CGN is not increasing at Hinkley Point C and at no stage did anyone on the project suggest lifting a structure over workers, nor has there been any disagreement over the approach to be taken to the dome lift. The majority of the workforce and supply chain at Hinkley Point C is British.”
Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former Tory leader, said at the weekend that he believed ministers were misled when they approved the role of CGN in the project.
There are around 30 CGN workers employed in the UK project team out of a total of around 6,000 people, the EDF spokesman said.
Earlier this month, CGN claimed that it had 100 staff on site. Both companies declined to comment on this discrepancy.