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Shutdowns and plunging profits cast doubt on nuclear future

British Energy, the nuclear power group, reported a sharp fall in profits yesterday – the same day a series of mishaps at its stations left more than 60% of its capacity out of action.

An unexpected shutdown at Hunterston on Scotland’s west coast yesterday followed the closure of its Sizewell B station on Tuesday which left thousands of homes without power. The shutdown at the Ayrshire plant meant 10 of the company’s 16 units were out of action.

The nuclear generator, which is to be sold off after the government announced plans for a new generation of nuclear stations, has been dogged by problems in the past year. It blamed other, ongoing problems at two power plants, Hartlepool and Heysham 1, for the fall in underlying profits from

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