New Investigative Book Questions Safety of France’s Nuclear Power Plants

France’s Nuclear Power Plants

In a new book to be published today, investigative reporters Thierry Gadault and Hugues Demeude disclose major deficiencies in the condition of several large nuclear power plants in France.
“Today, the question is no longer to know if a serious accident is possible in France but when it will take place,” said a senior executive of EDF, France’s nuclear power regulatory agency.
The book specifically warns that the Tricastin nuclear plant, located in Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux in southeastern France, is “the worst in the country.” The plant which was commissioned in 1980 has four pressurized water reactors providing electricity for 3.5 million local residents. The investigative report points to defects in reactor number 1.
“This reactor has all the problems,” explains Gadault and Demeude. They found numerous defects in the inner lining of the reactor and a serious risk of flooding.
In September, the plant was shut down temporarily to reinforce a dike on the Donzére-Mondragon canal north of the canal.
Worse yet, the authors recount a face-to-face interview with Pierre-Franck Chevet, the president of France’s Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) in which he admits that in the advent of a strong earthquake the region could experience a Fukushima-type accident.
An earthquake and subsequent tsunami caused a nuclear accident at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan in March 2011. It was the most significant nuclear incident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in the former Soviet Union.
Despite quotes from EDF executives in the book, the regulatory agency denied that any new problems had been detected in France’s 58 reactors.
“A number of things are true and known for a long time,” said Dominique Miniére, director of EDF’s nuclear and thermal group. When asked by L’Express magazine about Tricastin’s Reactor number one, he said nothing new was highlighted since the last report ten years prior.

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