Royal warns EDF to proceed with nuclear plant closure

The French energy minister, Segolene Royal, has warned EDF that it must announce its termination date for the Fessenheim nuclear power plant, despite some dissent from the unions who believe closure represents unnecessary industrial waste.

The EDF board was due to convene on Thursday and Royal reinforced the government line that the company needs to close the plant in order to comply with government policy capping nuclear power while growing the renewable sector.

“The board is going to have a debate and normally EDF’s chairman should give me a request (afterwards) to close Fessenheim as planned,” Royal said on CNEWS. “I’m warning the board members who are tempted to listen to inexact information and could harm the company’s interests.”
Fessenheim nuclear power plant
EDF’s management has argued that safety issues would not be a reason to close the plant since the nuclear watchdog deemed it safe after the utility invested hundreds of millions of euros to reinforce security following the Fukushima disaster in Japan.

Fessenheim’s two 900 MW reactors each bring EDF about $213m in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) per year.

The CGT union called on workers’ representatives on the EDF board to oppose the plant’s closure, saying it would be an economic and industrial waste. It also urged its members to picket EDF’s headquarters during Thursday’s meeting to keep pressure on the board members.

“The Fessenheim plant is safe, and it is recognized as such by the Nuclear Safety Authority,” CGT said in a statement, adding that the plant contributes to French energy security.

EDF is due to start production at its new generation EPR reactor under construction in Flamanville in northern France in 2018, which has added to the pressure by government to close Fessenheim, which is the country’s oldest nuclear power plant.

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