Nuclear plant in Fessenheim to go off grid

The French government has issued a decree for the decommissioning of the Fessenheim nuclear power plant, which is deemed to pose a security risk. The closure is dependent on the commissioning of a new reactor in Normandy. Commentators agree that France's plan to gradually phase out nuclear power is a failure.

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Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Hollande's failed nuclear policy

The operator of the Fessenheim nuclear power plant, EDF, has stipulated certain conditions for its closure. Hollande's nuclear power policy has failed, the Süddeutsche Zeitung explains:

“Like a state within the state, EDF is dictating the energy policy: first the public company dragged out the talks about Fessenheim for so long that the 2016 deadline for its decommissioning wasn't met. Then it negotiated compensation of half a billion euros at the taxpayers' expense. Now it is setting the timetable by making the shutdown contingent on a new nuclear plant going into operation. Hollande has gone along with it all. The mismanagement in the nuclear industry has cost France several billion euros in recent years, but even so Hollande hasn't reduced the country's dependency on nuclear power. In 2012, at the start of his presidency, he wanted to reduce the percentage of nuclear energy from 75 percent to 50 percent by 2015. That would mean decommissioning 24 reactors. Now Hollande is stepping down without having switched off a singly one.”

Slate (FR) /

Promise wasn't kept

The case of Fessenheim shows that the approach to the energy turnaround in France was unrealistic from the start, Slate comments:

“The statements by the energy minister praising a 'good decision' that she wishes to see made official in the days to come won't hide the fact that the government and head of state have not honoured their obligations on nuclear power. It was clear that their campaign promises would not be kept. Even back when he announced it the transformation described by François Hollande for gradually phasing out nuclear power was viewed as unrealistic by the experts, simply because of the regulatory constraints that must be observed when a reactor is shut down (the French supervisory authority ASN stipulates that a reactor's operator must sign a declaration two years before taking it off grid). The plant at Fessenheim won't be shut down any time soon.”