France’s opposition Socialists and Greens last week agreed a deal to jointly campaign for France to reduce its reliance on nuclear energy from more than 75 percent to 50 percent by shutting 24 nuclear reactors by 2025. The Greens say that alternative energy sources like wind and solar power would compensate for the effects on the economy of abandoning atomic power.
France is the world’s most nuclear-dependent country, operating 58 reactors, and has been a leading international proponent of atomic energy.
In November 2011, a French court fined nuclear power giant Électricité de France €1.5m and jailed two senior employees for spying on anti-nuclear group Greenpeace, including hacking into Greenpeace’s computer systems. Greenpeace was awarded €500,000 in damages.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy blamed the problems at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant on forces of nature instead of the intrinsic danger of nuclear power — Japan’s disaster in March “was not a nuclear accident. It was an earthquake followed by a tsunami,” he said.
He spoke as German police were patrolling a train carrying nuclear waste reprocessed in France on its way to a controversial storage site that protesters say is unsafe. French protesters clashed with riot police and damaged train track as the train tried to leave the reprocessing plant in the northern region of Normandy earlier this week. German police used water cannons late Thursday night on protesters trying to block a crossroads at Metzingen, near the destination in northern Germany, after fireworks and paint were thrown at officers.
Sarkozy is hoping the economic crisis will trump fears about nuclear security. French consumers pay less than most Europeans for electricity.
President Nicolas Sarkozy repeated his call for France to keep nuclear power, accusing the political left of stalling progress by campaigning to reduce reliance on atomic energy.
“It saddens me to hear more and more speeches questioning the very idea of progress, including in domains that until now were uncontested in our country, that were subject to political consensus between left and right,” Sarkozy said.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said it would ‘be madness’ to reduce his country’s huge reliance on nuclear power, despite worldwide wariness after Japan’s Fukushima disaster and protests this week over the dangers of waste.
“We do not have the right to break with the political consensus of the last 65 years at the risk of destroying jobs in French industry. It’s madness,” the conservative president told workers at a glass factory in southern France. He said reducing nuclear power would be a “catastrophe.”
“Do we have the means to destroy thousands of jobs in the middle of a crisis?” Sarkozy asked. “I will not accept allowing millions of households, especially the poorest, to bear the financial weight of a decision that is purely and simply, exclusively ideological.”
France depends on it for three-quarters of its electricity, more than any other country.
Supporters of cleaner energy sources say windmill farms and solar facilities would create new jobs and that maintaining nuclear energy is also very costly — notably because of the high price of keeping plants and nuclear material safe.
Source: Nuclear Power Daily
Source: Associated Press