Fessenheim: one nuclear power plant less

The oldest French nuclear power plant to date, Fessenheim in Alsace, was taken off the grid on June 30. Critics had argued for decades that the nuclear power plant, which went into operation in 1977, posed a major safety risk. German politicians and environmental activists welcomed the decommissioning of the plant, but many employees and residents fiercely opposed it. German and French commentators are also divided.

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Saarbrücker Zeitung (DE) /

The region must not be left in the lurch

For the Saarbrücker Zeitung the plant's closure is good news:

“Electricity from nuclear power plants is cheap, but it's no technology for the future. The enormous safety problems encountered during the reconstruction of the pressurised water reactor in Flamanville alone show how dangerous reactors are. The dismantling of old plants is complicated and the question of how to store nuclear waste is far from resolved. For the municipality of Fessenheim, however, the plant's closure comes as a severe blow as it appeared to guarantee a never-ending stream of corporate tax revenues. It secured many jobs and financial prosperity. So the ball is now in the court of the politicians in France and Germany. They must come to the region's aid.”

Les Echos (FR) /

Pointless symbolic politics

Two engineers criticise the closure in Les Echos:

“The decision to shut down Fessenheim is incredibly stupid from every point of view. Emmanuel Macron is trying to emulate [environmentalist MEP] Yannick Jadot. Only he'll never be able to because the charismatic figure from Europe-Ecology - The Greens (EELV) will have an easy time denouncing this symbolic policy since the party is calling for the total phase-out of nuclear power. The EELV has just scored substantial victories in several large cities. Will it insist on decarbonising a sector that is already 95 percent decarbonised at a prohibitive cost? Or will it focus on topics that can really enable us to put fossil fuels behind us, namely the thermal renovation of buildings and mobility?”