Missourians for Safe Energy


There are few nuclear critics who haven’t been asked this question:  Sure, we’ve had problems with nuclear power, but haven’t the French got it down? Isn’t their nuclear program a success story that we should emulate here? 


The answer in a word is “No” (or is that “Non”?).


 Those who have looked closely at the French experience have found that the costs and environmental impacts have been great. There have been many technical failures, including their attempts to commercialize breeder reactors. Their reprocessing program has been phenomenally expensive and has seriously contaminated the English Channel and neighboring waters.


France, like the rest of the world, has still to come up with a way to successfully isolate nuclear waste, and they have created vast inventories of lethal wastes. They currently are stockpiling 81 tons of separated plutonium. (Just ten pounds of Pu is sufficient to make a Nagasaki-type bomb.)


French nukes have proved unreliable in hot weather and droughts, due to their cooling water needs. There also are serious security concerns, as French nuclear plants would be vulnerable to 911-style attacks by passenger planes. Moreover, nukes are very unpopular with the French citizenry, with recent polls showing fewer than 31 percent viewing nuclear positively, as many as 61 percent favoring a nuclear phase-out, while fully 84 percent of the French population favors renewable energy.


If you’d like to understand better why the reality of France’s nuclear program hasn’t matched the industry rhetoric or the media hype, there are several excellent sources to check out:


“France’s Nuclear Fix?” by Arjun Makhijani , PhD .

http://www.ieer.org/sdafiles/15-2.pdf  (Note: this link will open a PDF of the January 2008 issue of Science for Democratic Action. The article on France is on pages 5-8.)


“Nuclear Power and France: Setting the Record Straight” a six-page Beyond Nuclear fact sheet.  http://www.beyondnuclear.org/files/beyondnuclear/Nuclear_France_Fact_Sheet_FINAL%5B1%5D.pdf


“French Nuclear Reprocessing –Failure at Home, Coup d’Etat in the United States”

by Shaun Burnie   http://www.citizen.org/documents/BurnieFrenchReprocessing.pdf

If you are interested in sharing information on this topic with the general public, there’s an excellent three-panel leaflet “Nuclear Power in France: Setting the Record Straight,” that can be printed at:  http://www.beyondnuclear.org/files/beyondnuclear/French%20pamphlet%20FINAL.pdf

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