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France

France gets nearly 80% of its electricity from its 58 reactors. However, such a heavy reliance on nuclear power brings with it many major, unsolved problems, most especially that of radioactive waste. Despite assertions to the contrary, the French nuclear story is far from a gleaming example of nuclear success.

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Saturday
Jul112009

Areva submits to joint health observatory in Niger - a sign of admission that its uranium mines cause health problems

Areva, in partnership with NGOs, including the French organizations Sherpa and Medecins du Monde, has agreed to establish an observation center at its two operating mine sites in Niger, Africa, in order to better monitor the health impacts caused by uranium mining. However, there is widespread skepticism that without any guarantees from Areva that it will compensate for damage done, the effort is merely window-dressing. Read the views of CRIIRAD, the independent radiological research laboratory which has tested the levels of radioactiviry around the Niger mine site.  Agence France Presse also covered the announcement.

Saturday
Jul112009

Finnish nuclear "renaissance" sinking (metaphorically) in the mudflats

Better late than never, the New York Times reports on the sorry state of the French-led nuclear "renaissance" in Finland and France and the poor prospects for a nuclear revival in the U.S. 

Saturday
Jul112009

French activists take message of abolition to NPT prepcom meeting

A representative from the French anti-nuclear network, Sortir du nucléaire, delivered a strong nuclear weapons abolition message at the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) conference at the United Nations in New York, May 2-9, particularly in light of the French development of a new intercontinental ballistic missile, the M51. (Photo at left shows protests at the M51 facility. Photo courtesy of Éric Baisson and the "No to the M51 Missile Coalition). The May 2009 conference was in preparation for the 2010 NPT review conference. Alain Rivat of the French network, in a prepared statement (in English), pointed out that France is in violation of the NPT - which calls on nuclear weapons states to disarm - in developing both the M51 and the MegaJoule, a laser that can simulate nuclear weapons tests. France also played an influential role in securing the U.S.-India deal which allows India to develop civilian nuclear technology even though it is an "unofficial" nuclear weapons state that is not a signatory to the NPT. Furthermore, France is in violation of the tenets of the treaty by exporting reprocessing technology which separates plutonium from irradiated reactor fuel, a clear proliferation risk.

Saturday
Jul112009

French nuclear energy operator, EDF, caught spying on nuclear opponents 

The French nuclear energy operator, Électricité de France, has been caught infiltrating and conducting surveillance on members of anti-nuclear organizations in France and potentially elsewhere in Europe, it was revealed this week. The network, Sortir du Nucléaire - of which Beyond Nuclear is a member - along with Greenpeace, were two of the organizations indentified as targets of spying by EDF security contractors, according to court papers made available to the Financial Times. The surveillance - which may also have included illegal hacking of computers belonging to anti-nuclear activists - points up the inherent incompatibility between the nuclear energy industry and democracy and also reinforces the fact that the French nuclear sector is highly secretive. The targeting of Sortir du Nucléaire - and in particular its spokesman, Stéphane Lhomme - came after a still unknown EDF source leaked confidential documents to the network showing that the French EPR reactor (seven of which are slated for sites in the U.S.) - cannot withstand a jet airliner attack. EDF, in partnership with Constellation Energy (and under the coporate mantel of UniStar Nuclear Energy) is aiming to build and operate new EPR reactors at sites in Maryland, Missouri, New York and Pennsylvania.

Saturday
Jul112009

Sarkozy and Areva ink deals in DR Congo and Niger


French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, and Areva CEO, Anne Lauvergeon, have returned from their African tour after inking uranium mining deals in Niger - where the Touareg are threatened with elimination - and in war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo where three million people have already died due to fighting over the country's mineral wealth. The Congo war has been described as "Africa's world war" and in a "humanitarian crisis" yet Areva has claimed the exclusive right to further plunder the country by mining uranium there. The Imouraren mine in Niger, which is expected to produce 5,000 tonnes of uranium a year - mainly to fuel France's import-dependent nuclear reactors - will force out the already threatened nomadic Touareg population. Scarce water supplies in the Sahara region will be further decimated by the new mine, compounded by the Niger government's decision to award dozens of additional uranium prospecting contracts to international mining corporations.

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