PARIS Oct 4 The project to build France's 60th
nuclear reactor has not been put on ice, the energy ministry
said on Tuesday after state-owned utility EDF delayed
public consultations necessary to give the go-ahead for
"The Penly project is not suspended," a spokeswoman at the
energy ministry said after newspaper Le Monde reported that EDF
had decided against launching public consultations six months
before presidential elections and after the Fukushima disaster
in Japan rekindled public debate on France's nuclear dependence.
EDF had informed the energy ministry that its public
consultation survey was not ready, the energy ministry
spokeswoman said, adding consultations would only be carried out
when the survey is submitted to the ASN nuclear watchdog.
EDF, whose 58 nuclear reactors produce enough to meet 80
percent of France's electricity needs, confirmed a delay of "a
few months" explained by the fact that EDF had been busy
carrying safety tests in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.
Penly's next-generation reactor, which would be France's
second new-generation reactor after the one being built in
Flamanville, was originally due for construction from 2012 and
set to start production from 2017.
The Fukushima catastrophe has fuelled speculation France
will renounce its plans to build another nuclear reactor but the
government has repeatedly denied the project has been frozen.
(Reporting By Marie Maitre and Benjamin Mallet; editing by