Fessenheim: no to climate vandalism!

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Published on 09/07/2020

Voices of Nuclear joined on the 29th of June 2020 a gathering in Paris in front of the Greenpeace France premises to commemorate 40 years of successful operation, for a climate-friendly electric supply, of the Fessenheim nuclear power plant and denounce its unjustified forced closure.

The NGO Voices of Nuclear and other representatives of civil society today join the spontaneous gathering in Paris in front of the Greenpeace France premises to :

  • commemorate 40 years of successful operation, for a climate-friendly electric supply, of theFessenheim nuclear power plant (NPP),
  • and denounce its unjustified forced closure.

On the 30th of June, the second reactor unit at Fessenheim will stop, leading the whole site of this pioneer among French NPPs to cease power operations.

This very low-carbon, non-polluting and economically profitable plant fell victim to a series of disastrous political decisions separated from its technical state and performance. Fessenheim 2 will join 15 other reactors shut down worldwide since the beginning of 2019 and 11 other ones scheduled to close by the end of 2022 (see map below).

In total, 26 sources of low-carbon power will have been shut down worldwide in 3 years, essentially under the pressure of “green” movements!

One of the prevailing reasons behind these shutdowns are the political interests of a minority, be it the need to win an electoral majority by juggling with political views or failing to establish a technologyneutral policy, penalising nuclear or depriving it of opportunities granted to other energy sources. The result is the increased presence of energy sources harmful for the climate or inefficient at protecting it, while nuclear is pushed out of the market. Today, environmental impact, and notably carbon footprint, of energy sources still has not been priced at a fair level nor does it get appropriate media and political recognition.

Almost half of the 15 reactors closed over the past year have been done so prematurely, decades before losing profitability or lowering safety levels. These premature closures are a serious threat to the energy security and low-carbon performance of the global economy, as well as now of the French economy with the shutdown of Fessenheim.

Voices of Nuclear asks that the facts be shared with everyone and that the decarbonization efforts of our society be established in respect of scientific facts and in the interest of the majority. We strongly oppose the destruction of well-functioning, abundant sources of electricity operating now and potentially for decades to come. Nuclear energy should be included in the energy debate and energy mix, supported with all honesty, and considered pragmatically in regard of its technical, and not emotive, advantages and disadvantages.

The shutdown of Fessenheim and other reactors around the world should be a loud wakeup call for politicians to stop sabotaging the decarbonization efforts of our societies and for citizens to call for prioritizing the fight against climate change.

Press contacts:

  • Chair of the association: Myrto TRIPATHI, myrtotripathi@gmail.com
  • presse@voixdunucleaire.org

Interview with Myrto Tripathi,
chair of the association
Voices of Nuclear

What does the closure of Fessenheim mean to you?

The closure of Fessenheim is above all an ecological disaster. A source of energy that emits almost no CO2 is about to be closed. Nuclear power is the lowest-carbon energy source in France and this power plant will be replaced by fossil fuel generating capacity that will emit between 6 and 10 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year, toxic products and particles. This is particularly the case with coal-fired power stations: today, coal-fired power generation kills more than 10,000 people inEurope every year. The closure of Fessenheim is thus also a health disaster. And while Germanywelcomes the closure of Fessenheim, it has just commissioned a new coal-fired power plant of more than 1 GW, just a few weeks ago. So Europe has really replaced a carbon-free source of electricity with coal… Whereas we have just gone through months of unprecedented collective sacrifices, for health reasons, we are deliberately plunging headlong into a situation that will worsen the health of the French and European people. Finally, the closure of Fessenheim is a human and social disaster with the loss of 5 000 jobs in a region that is going to be economically devastated. And, whereas we need to reinforce and support the State budget within the framework of a recovery plan when, this closure will instead generate pure losses.

Why do you say that nuclear is ecological?

Nuclear power is environmentally friendly for several reasons. First of all, it is the most carbon-free energy source in France: it emits virtually no greenhouse gases. The second reason why nuclear power is environmentally friendly is that it has a small environmental footprint: it consumes few minerals, metals and soil resources. But above all, it has one of the smallest impacts on biodiversity of all the energy sources to which we have access. Finally, nuclear power is environmentally friendly because it is capable of producing the energy we need at all hours of the day and every day of the year, without ever having to resort to back-up, i.e. fossil fuels, gas, or coal, to offset its unavailability.

Why demonstrate today in front of Greenpeace France headquarters?

Greenpeace is today one of the main disseminators of untruths about nuclear power. It is to Greenpeace that we owe the association of ideas between nuclear power and fossil fuels as a similar danger to the climate. It is to Greenpeace that we owe several untruths, such as the fact that nuclear power plants would be unsafe, that they are supposedly aging, and that the plants should be shut down. All of these statements are false and run counter to what the place of nuclear power in the energy transition should be, that is to say, one of the major solutions for combating climate change.

Nuclear power is the most low-carbon energy source in France: that is what Greenpeace should be saying and sharing via all their distribution channels, thanks to all their media power, thanks to the multinational power of Greenpeace International.

Who are the Voices of Nuclear?

Voices of Nuclear is a citizens’ association, entirely composed of volunteers, who demand to be able to benefit from the advantages of nuclear energy in their daily lives. For themselves, for their children and for the generations to come. We are campaigning to benefit from technologies capable of delivering carbon-free electricity all the time, in all weathers, when we need it.

What is your goal?

The objective of the Voices of Nuclear is very simple. It is to get rid of fossil fuels to achieve the goals set by the Paris agreements, in order to limit the planet’s warming to less than 2°C at the end of the century and to not reach temperature levels that are catastrophic for the planet, for the ecosystem, and for biodiversity. In order to prevent this, it is imperative that we reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the maximum extent possible. Today, we know how to do this, in terms of electricity generation. We even do it very well. France is the worldleader in this field because we are doing it thanks to our nuclear fleet. To get rid of greenhouse gas emissions, the source of electricity is a major issue. There is no other choice, to meet this challenge and avoid fossil fuels, than to rely on dispatchable, concentrated, and low-carbon energy sources. There are two sources that meet these criteria : nuclear power and hydropower. This is the foundation on which we must base all our development, which must be complemented and supported by renewable energies. Today, without nuclear and hydropower, we cannot guarantee a carbon-free and permanent electric supply!

What do you think of the historic success of the Greens yesterday in the municipal elections?

It is the expression of a very strong expectation of the French on questions of ecology and climate. This is excellent news. It is also a responsibility for those who today are the political beneficiaries of this expectation. We must not disappoint, and in order not to disappoint we must start by telling the truth and sharing all information, not just the information that suits us. More than ever, the environmentalists have a responsibility to translate their discourse of environmental responsibility and social justice into coherent political positions and decisions. The massive use of renewable energies secures the presence of gas and perpetuates that of coal – in addition to destabilizing the electricity grid and increasing electricity prices and government spending. To test the environmental and social sincerity of elected environmentalists, we call on them to fight for ecology and not ecologism.

Some pictures of the Monday 29th gathering at 19h in front of Greenpeace France premises (Paris):

All those pictures (and several others as well as some video pieces) are @Voix du Nucléaire and are available in original format on simple request.