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Nuclear energy in France: An unhealthy glow: new study dispels French nuclear myths


03 Dec 2008


Climate & Environment
EU Priorities 2020

A study – commissioned by the Greens/EFA Group and published today – has revealed some home truths behind the glossy image marketed by the French nuclear industry. Claims about nuclear energy's credentials for climate protection and energy independence in particular are exposed as myths. At the presentation of the study, German Green MEP and energy spokesperson Rebecca Harms commented:

"France is marketed as a leading light in the nuclear renaissance, with its star salesman Sarkozy touting French nuclear energy around the world.  This studyclearly show that nuclear France is not living up to the hype.

"Despite  all its claims, Franceis no less hooked on oil than its neighbours. It consumes more oil than non-nuclear Italy or Germany and produces twice as much oil-fired power as the UK. On top of its oil dependency, France can hardly seriously argue that nuclear offers more "energy independence" when it needs to import all its
uranium. "Nuclear energy is also no silver bullet for climate protection. France's CO2 emissions have not bucked the European trend, and haveincreased since the 1980s.

"Nuclear energy is not clean energy. Électricité De France is sitting on 12,000 tonnes of spent plutonium and France lacks the capacity to deal with it. Reprocessing nuclear fuel is highly polluting and the transportation and storage of plutonium imply serious safety risks.

"The future is not looking any brighter for nuclear. New European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) plants were supposed

to herald a new dawn, but faltering and over-budget projects in Finland and France suggest it would be better to call it a day. France is not even producing enough qualified graduates to staff the so-called nuclear renaissance.

"Politicians from the US to North Africa have been seduced by France's greenwash of its nuclear industry but most of us are not convinced. Expanding the share of nuclear energy has a dismal approval rating among Europeans, including French citizens. (2) It's time for France's nuclear marketing machine to come clean and accept nuclear energy's major and potentially dangerous drawbacks."

(1) "Nuclear power in France – Beyond the myth"; click for the report in English and French and the summary in

English, French and German.
(2) April 2007 Gallup survey quoted in study, 30% of EU27 citizens in favour, 61% opposed (France: 28% and 59%