Failure in France

  • 14/07/2001

Failure in France Arjun Makhijani, president of Maryland-based Institute for Energy and Environment Research ( ieer ), contradicts the French repository programme as "non-existent'. France has no repository as yet and the proposed site is expected to come up only by 2015. There was intense opposition in France in 1987 when the French government opened the search for a repository without public participation.

France's nuclear waste management relies on a reprocessing plant used to dissolve reactor fuel to separate plutonium, uranium and fission products. Liquid wastes discharged from this plant are polluting the English Channel and spreading radioactivity in the seas of Western Europe. The pollution has so rankled other European countries that 12 members of the Oslo-Paris ( ospar ) convention, a European body whose mission is to protect the marine environment, voted last year for the elimination of the radioactive releases from the plant with a view to shutting down the reprocessing activity.

"Right now we've got waste piling up at reactors. There ought to be a permanent repository. The French do it very successfully in an environmentally sound, sane manner. We need to be able to do the same thing,' says the Department of Energy report. "France is no showcase for nuclear power,' dismisses Didiger Anger, a founder member of France's Green Party, which is part of the ruling coalition government. "Before pointing towards France as a success story, the American public should ask the French people what they think of problems of waste, disease and government cover-ups.'

France, too, has come under attack by environmentalists when its nuclear reprocessing project was found to have contaminated the Normandy coast in 1997. Greenpeace activists forcibly shut down its beaches when divers found contamination levels in the ocean to be exceedingly above accepted levels. France's breeder reactor project

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