Witnessing the shutdown of Fessenheim

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Published on 30/07/2020

Shutdown of the Fessenheim nuclear power plant – global citizens speak out about the absurd ecocidal decision

On February 22 the first unit in Fessenheim was shut down. On June 30, the time came for the second unit, and consequently whole site, to be closed.

A lot has been said about this subject in recent months.

The Voices fought, despite the news overflow especially about health, climate and economy, for this closure to be understood for what it is: a health, climate and economic scandal. Several actions were carried out and we have chosen, exceptionally, to review them in two successive newsletters on the same subject, to close out the – publication day after day of the testimonies of solidarity, distress and anger that have reached us from all over the world,

– the photos of the Fessenheim power plant that bear – virtually, to be sure, but at last ! – messages that could have saved it and that were sent – on photo paper and in large format – to EDF management “for inspiration”, ?

– presentation of the 24 other reactors closed or in the process of being closed worldwide which accompany those of Fessenheim – a morbid parade of 26 reactors in 3 years …

– and finally, our little improvised happening in front of Greenpeace offices, because ideology must be pulled up by the root.

In the first of these two newsletters, we review the big impact that the closure had outside our borders, the reactions and the emotions it elicited.

Why? you might ask. Because the consequences of this closure are global, because the same damage and the same effects are experienced elsewhere and with the same pain.

And because it is the entire world nuclear industry that is targeted, that is subjected to coordinated attacks from its opponents, that loses many points and gains few, it is the entire world nuclear industry and its supporters that are obliged to react.

Not for the industry itself, but for what it represents for the populations it serves.
There is a principle of responsibility in not letting yourself be killed.
We let Fessenheim be killed, let’s not let the others be killed as well.

See you at Stand Up For Nuclear on September 27 in Paris.
Come on, time to stand up!

for the Voices

The premature shutdown of Fessenheim and the affront it represents for the global fight against global warming has caused a lot of misunderstanding, including in the English-speaking world. In an article published in Sustainability Times, David Watson attempted to describe for English-speaking readers the political origins, as well as the negative environmental consequences, of this closure.

A safe and profitable nuclear plant is closing in France. Why?

The following quotes are taken from international testimonies that we received throughout the month of June. They reflect the main reasons for the indignation expressed on this occasion.


“Why is a perfectly running energy source that has served for decades and is ready to do so for many more going to be shut down for good?”

Guido, Argentina

Contrary to our goals

“Closing nuclear power plants in the 2020s is a mistake that only takes us further from where we all want to be.”

Jeremy, United Kingdom

Crime against the climate

“This nuclear plant generates more carbon-free electricity than all of France’s solar plants, yet it is shut down for purely political reasons. It is the fourth time in less than a year we’ve seen the shuttering of a clean energy warrior with decades of life still to give.”

Eric, United States

Dramatic consequence for people

“It is guaranteed that the substitute of its electricity will be emitting more carbon and other pollutants than Fessenheim did. Its premature closure is therefore really bad news for the hundreds of professionals who will lose their jobs, the region’s economy, the environment and the consumers getting a less secure and more polluting electricity supply.”

Wolfgang, Switzerland

Failed climate politics in the EU

“We need to understand that this sad moment is a result of years of failing EU climate policy that is not technologically agnostic and largely ignores 50% of low carbon electricity generation in the EU. We act as if the climate challenge was easy enough so that we could fight it with one arm tied behind our back. We obviously can’t.”

Adam, Poland

Reality : low-carbon energy replaced by fossil energy

“Nuclear and hydro are in practice the only two fossil-free options for dispatchable capacity. In absence of these, fossil fuel plants which are also dispatchable have to be employed. Fessenheim will be replaced by fossil gas which will be diluted by intermittent production when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing. We will be told though that it is replaced by renewable energy.”

Daniel, Sweden

France turning its back on itself

“Fessenheim is going to shut down, for which we feel very sorry. France has always been the role model among countries with clean energy. […] It should not be destroyed by the decision made by the politicians based on the stereotype.”

Shih-Hsiu Huang, Taiwan

Contradictions all around : public, industry, government

“What makes the loss of a plant especially difficult is when it is shuttered senselessly, which is what the world is witnessing as Germany sheds its final nuclear plants and deepens its reliance on coal. But what makes the closure of Fessenheim a unique tragedy is that it’s being senselessly closed by a government that claims to understand the importance of nuclear power.”

Madison, United States

Employees, community, work thrown away

“[Fessenheim,] you generated 440 TWh of electricity in total during your 42-years of operation, gave about 1000 jobs on the site, and supported at least 5000 people’s economy in the local area. Your early closure by the political decision is a tragedy.“

Noriyuki, Japan

Loss of jobs and skills

“With the decommissioning of Fessenheim, an important chapter in the history of French nuclear energy closes, but above all: know-how, expertise, jobs and reliable, low-carbon electricity.”

Serge, Belgium

These international voices also expressed their thanks to the Fessenheim operators for all they have done for the common good, as well as their feelings towards them in these difficult times.

Call-out to the government

“Khmelnytskyi NPP staff would like to support you at the toughest moment in the history of your nuclear power plant. (…) We would like to appeal to the public and the Government of your country to support the nuclear industry as a reliable and environmentally friendly producer of electricity and heat.”

Staff of Khmelnytskyi NPP, Ukraine

Compassion for NPP staff

“At the time we try to convince the stakeholders and the public of the big benefit of adding nuclear power to Jordan’s energy mix, we feel sorry to hear that you – the great staff of Fessenheim Plant – are confronted with the negative effects of opposition to nuclear power.”

Reem, Jordan

Solidarity with Fessenheim population

“This act of vandalism has cost engineers and workers their jobs and their future and will hit entire communities in the area for no objective reason. With other rationally thinking people in Germany, I stand in solidarity with the citizens and workers in and around Fessenheim in this dark hour “

Amardeo, Germany

These testimonies were collected as part of the Voices of Nuclear campaign during the month preceding the shutdown of Fessenheim-2. The contributions were posted in full on our LinkedIn channel, Twitter in French and in English and Facebook. They were also sent to the employees at the Fessenheim plant as they were published.

Fessenheim operators,

you can be proud of what you have accomplished over all these years.

Thank you.