Power output from France’s nuclear reactors dropped by around 6 per cent on Thursday as striking workers at plants across the country downed tools.

The strike is part of an ongoing labour dispute with the government which has caused transport fuel shortages and forced the government to tap into its reserves.

The CGT-Energie union told French newspaper Le Monde that between 50 and 80 per cent of its members working at nuclear power plants had stopped work, while plant operator EDF said that around 10 per cent of its employees were on strike.  

Twelve of the nation’s 58 reactors suffered outages on Thursday according to grid operator RTE, lowering France’s nuclear power output by about 5 GW.

The maximum decrease in output was recorded at the 2600 MW Nogent plant (pictured) in the township of Nogent-sur-Seine, 120 km southeast of Paris, where output dropped to 1031 MW according to RTE data.

RTE said two other plants, Gardanne in the Bouches-du-Rhône region and Porcheville in Yvelines, were shut down on Thursday morning. The CGT said a third plant, Cordemais in Loire-Atlantique, had also been shut down, but this was not confirmed by RTE.

EDF said the strike would not impact power distribution and Thursday would be a “normal” day on the network. A statement from RTE noted that France can call on its coal-fired, hydropower, solar and wind power plants, which would be “sufficient” to cover the country’s power needs. However, RTE data showed a rise in French power imports, largely from Germany and Switzerland.  

RTE’s website shows projected restart dates for the affected reactors ranging from today to 30 May.

France’s total nuclear power capacity stands at 63.2 GW, supplying 77 per cent of the country’s total power. 

Image credit: Clicgauche on fr.wikipedia