The French comforted themselves with the knowledge that their plants, unlike Chernobyl, are encased in concrete. Likewise, when the nuclear accident occurred at Fukushima in 2011, the French said their country was not threatened by powerful earthquakes or tsunamis. “This reasoning is wrong,” Pierre-Franck Chevet, the president of the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN), said in an unusually forthright interview with Le Monde today. “We could have earthquakes or floods greater than expected in France, acts of malevolence against a plant,” Chevet said. The electricity company EDF needs €55 billion to renovate 58 nuclear reactors on 19 sites, to extend their lifespan from 40 to 50 years. But it has neither the means to prolong their service nor the €74 billion the EU Commission says it will cost to dismantle them in coming decades. One lesson of Chernobyl was that a nuclear accident does not spare one’s neighbours. Switzerland recently filed a lawsuit over the Bugey plant in eastern France, for “deliberately endangering the lives of others”. On Sunday, hundreds of people, most of them German, demonstrated against Fessenheim, France’s oldest, 39-year-old nuclear reactor, in Alsace. The German government has long demanded it be shut down. The 2015 law on energy transition promised to reduce France’s reliance on nuclear power from 75 per cent to 50 per cent by 2025. But until renewable energy provides 40 per cent of electricity, Royal said yesterday, France will not start scaling down its use of nuclear power. “I’m not going to cut off French people’s electricity to satisfy anti-nuclear ideologues,” Royal said, calling anti- nuclear groups “obsessed”. Royal was supposed to announce a multiyear energy programme detailing plans for transition from nuclear to renewable energy, including the schedule for decommissioning aging nuclear plants, by late 2015. A second, February deadline also passed.
Irish Times 26th April 2016 read more »