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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Le plutonium nouveau est arrive 

So it is going to be four new Nuclear Power stations in the UK under plans floated by EDF (the new owners of British Energy). Good candidates perhaps for an upcoming accelerated protester-neutralised planning system for ‘major projects’?

These reactors will presumably be the French ‘European Pressurised Reactor’ design which is apparently running into considerable technical and economic problems in its showcase export project in Finland (massive safety problems due to mistakes in the foundations, already 50% over budget and two years behind schedule).

France has been trying to sell its nuclear technology to the United States for awhile now (with the support apparently of the likes of vice-President Cheyney). This prompted a posting on the DailyKos newsblog analysing French claims. Well worth a read at this time ( and a by-product, to see also the economic protectionist rhetoric in a lot of US discourse).

France has no real nuclear reprocessing capabilities and has about 80 or so metric tons of plutonium stashed at its la Hogue and discharges from this into the English Channel are causing intense problems. Indeed according to the (US) Institute for Energy and Environmental Research

….The pollution from the reprocessing plant has so rankled other European countries, that 12 members of the OSPAR (Oslo-Paris) convention (a European body whose mission is to protect the marine environment) voted last year (2000) for the elimination of the radioactive releases from the plant with a view to shutting down the reprocessing activity. France abstained. Denmark, Norway and Ireland have called on France and Britain, which runs a similar plant, to shut down their reprocessing operations. (IEER press release 2001)


Not much action there I think in the subsequent years. I wonder if EDF is counting on getting access to Sellafield and thus transferring some of this concentrated pollution to the Irish Sea?

For a sustained assault on the French nuclear power industry, the ‘French Nuclear Myths’ pages on the 'Beyond Nuclear' site seem a good resource. Caveat I have not assessed all these pages so cannot vouch for them as yet.

However one theme looks fairly well established – in the International Trade Corruption stakes the French Nuclear Industry makes the UK Arms traders look like constipated choiristers.

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