Lessons from Japan, France’s nuclear energy program – a European timebomb

Nuclear energy gives France 80% of its energy needs and allows the country to be the world’s largest exporter of electricity. Additionally, its 58 nuclear reactors make it the second largest producer of nuclear energy in the world, the largest being the USA.

Nuclear Risk for neighbouring European countries

With one to two reactors in Japan having the potential to cause a level of radioactivity contamination that will certainly seriously affect not only all of Japan but also its neighbours, it is beyond imagination to consider what would happen to the countries of Europe that neighbour France – Britain, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, etc., if a natural, or unnatural disaster (eg., terrorist attack) were to afflict the country’s nuclear facilities.

Overheating problems with France’s nuclear power systems

Only recently, in 2005, France’s Electricite de France (EDF), the government-controlled energy group controlling all of the country’s nuclear plants warned that it would be forced to disconnect one of its plants located in southeast France on the Rhone River as the temperature of the water leaving the reactor’s coolers had gone beyond 25 degrees centigrade which is the maximum safety limit for the country.  With high temperatures being the norm during France’s summer time, France will have had many ‘pre-nuclear’ accidents since 2005.  According to  Stephane Lhomme of Sortir du Nucléare, a French anti-nuclear organisation, “France finds itself in a situation of pre-nuclear accident,” – that was in 2005.

In as far back as 2003, summer temperatures had caused the Fessenheim nuclear plant to reach more than 50% centrigrade and then, manual cooling of the reactor’s external walls had been ordered. Other nuclear plants in France had merely dumped the heated water into the country’s rivers with scant regard to aquatic life as opposed to shutting down the plants.   According to newspaper reports, the southwestern nuclear plant situated in Blayais had made around 50 such dumpings in 2003.

Money v risk – for France, risk wins

With a 80% reliance on nuclear energy and an aggressive program for advancing and building new technology for nuclear power production, France, resultantly, as the world’s largest net electricity exporter is doing very nicely thank you very much at its neighbour’s expense.  For France, electricity is its fourth largest export and its main customers are the UK and Italy.

European ‘risk’ levy on France for nuclear danger for neighbours

As events unravel in Japan and the world is waking up to the unimaginable dangers posed by the utilisation of nuclear power, the question is why should one country in Europe, France, profit so vastly from creating a danger that not only risks the lives and health of its own citizens, but those of all countries in Europe?  Many action groups are now asking for France to be made to pay a levy which will go towards an insurance policy for its compensation to the EU and other neighbouring countries that are likely to be affected if a nuclear disaster happens on its shores.  However, for many, consigning nuclear energy to the dustbin of bad ideas would be a better option.

Research sources: –

[Energy Risk Contributor]


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