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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
Jun292012

EDF Gets Six Years to Carry Out $12 Billion of Safety Measures

From news reports: Electricite de France SA, operator of the country’s 58 nuclear reactors, has six years to complete about 10 billion euros ($12 billion) of measures to boost safety after Japan’s Fukushima atomic meltdown, the regulator said.

Autorite de Surete Nucleaire today published deadlines for measures including employing equipment such as diesel generators and bunkered control rooms, and guarding against flooding.

An estimate by state-owned EDF that the measures will cost about 10 billion euros “is not improbable,” Andre-Claude Lacoste, head of the watchdog, told reporters today.

“No one can ever guarantee that a nuclear accident will never happen in France,” he said. “We may need 10 years to completely understand what happened at Fukushima.”

Unfortunately, the approach in France appears to be likely futile (and expensive) efforts to "fix" safety issues rather than move toward a nuclear shutdown like Germany.

Monday
Jun112012

Hollande shows his pro-nuclear colors in supporting uranium mine in Niger

Newly-elected French President, François Hollande, has confirmed the forebodings of French anti-nuclear activists by coming out in favor of hastening the start of a new uranium mine in Niger. The mine at Imouraren would be the largest uranium mine in the world. Extraction was due to begin around 2013-2014 with an annual production of anything between 3,000 and 8,000 metric tons of uranium. Hollande was quoted as being favorable to moving up the start of production.

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."