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France

France gets nearly 80% of its electricity from its 58 reactors. However, such a heavy reliance on nuclear power brings with it many major, unsolved problems, most especially that of radioactive waste. Despite assertions to the contrary, the French nuclear story is far from a gleaming example of nuclear success.

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Friday
May112012

Areva found culpable in death of Niger uranium mine worker

French nuclear company, Areva, was found culpable in a court of law last Friday for the death of Serge Venel, a uranium mine worker who toiled from 1978 to 1985 for Areva subsidiary, Cominak, at uranium mines in Akokan, Niger.  Venel died of cancer at 59 and his widow was this week awarded 200,000 Euros ($258,000) in damages with interest, which will likely double the total amount. Inhalation of uranium dust was deemed the cause of Venel's cancer. Areva will almost certainly appeal, but the verdict opens the door to many more suits from plaintiffs previously afraid to attack Areva. (Pictured: a typical dwelling of Areva uranium miner in Niger.)

Thursday
May102012

Hollande in, but nuclear not necessarily out

The election of François Hollande as the new president of France will not mean a significant reduction in the use of nuclear energy in that country, despite such declarations early on in the campaign from the then Socialist candidate. Hollande is only committed to closing the two oldest reactors - at Fessenheim - and not until his term ends in 2017. That will still leave 56 reactors running plus the new EPR currently under construction at Flamanville (pictured left) which Hollande has not indicated he will halt. In fact, his ties to Areva - like those of President Obama to US nuclear corporation, Exelon - are close. One of Hollande's three chief spokespeople on the campaign was Cherbourg deputy mayor, Bernard Cazeneuve, a huge supporter of the nearby Areva-owned La Hague reprocessing plant and a consistent booster for the corporation. 

Thursday
Apr122012

"Atomic Anne" fingers Sarkozy "folly" in pitching nukes to Libya

French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, was actively trying to sell nuclear power to Gaddafi's Libya until the summer of 2010, according to the ex CEO of Areva, Anne Lauvergeon. In fact, the Washington Post identified Sarkozy as the "most aggressive salesman" for nuclear power in the world. Lauvergeon said in an interview with L'Express that she "vigorously" opposed efforts to sell nukes to Libya calling it "folly."

Thursday
Apr122012

Embattled Areva moves forward on solar

While cancelations and delays are the norm for Areva nuclear, its solar division is supplying India with two 125 MW plants and is also marketing to Australia and Tucson, AZ amongst other destinations. More.

Monday
Apr092012

Radioactive leaks at French nuclear reactor

A reactor at the power plant in Penly on the English Channel near the port  of Dieppe shut down automatically after two small fires broke out Thursday, the  plant’s operator EDF said.

Firefighters easily extinguished the blazes but a cooling pump was damaged,  in turn causing a joint to leak radioactive water into collection tanks located  inside the reactor building, EDF said. New Straits Times.