France closes oldest nuclear power plant | News | DW

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The French public electricity company EDF announced Monday the closure of the country’s oldest nuclear power plant located in Fessenheim, on the other side of the German border.The procedure effectively shut down the second and last reactor in service at the plant. The first reactor went offline in February.

The French subsidiary of Greenpeace called it a “historic moment”.

“France has 56 other aging reactors which will also have to be shut down soon,” Greenpeace said in a statement released last week.

But not everyone agrees that phasing out nuclear power is the way to go.

Read more: Opinion: Angela Merkel’s blunder of the decade which is taboo in Germany

“Less nuclear means more coal”

Pro-nuclear protesters gathered outside Greenpeace headquarters in Paris to protest their campaign to end the use of nuclear energy in France. “Less nuclear means more coal,” protested protesters.

In Fessenheim, dozens of employees gathered to say goodbye to the factory.

“This is a descent into hell for the workers of Fessenheim,” said the CGT, the largest French union, in a tweet in French. “The most environmentally friendly tool is scrapped for ecological reasons. ”

Read more: A “slight” increase in radioactivity in the Nordic countries

Phasing out

In the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the French president at the time, François Hollande, undertook to close Fessenheim, but it was not until 2018 that his successor Emmanuel Macron gave the green light.

Without Fessenheim, France will still have 56 pressurized water reactors distributed in 18 nuclear power plants producing around 70% of its electricity. Only the United States, with 98, has more reactors, but France is by far the world’s largest consumer of nuclear energy.

The Fessenheim plant was commissioned in 1977 with an expected life of 40 years. In 2017, more than 1,000 people were employed by the factory.

President Macron has committed to shifting France’s energy dependency to renewable energy by shutting down 12 additional reactors by 2035.

Read more: What happens to nuclear waste from power plants?

ls / sri (AFP, AP)



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