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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Potential for drones to carry explosive devices over nuclear reactors

With concerns about terrorism ever-present, the fear that drones carrying explosive devices could potentially fly over such sites looms large. 

Drones Flying Over Nuclear Power Stations in France Raise Concerns Global Voices,  byAbdoulaye Bah Translated byDanielle Martineau  9 December 2014 

At least 19 drones have been spotted in the past two months flying over nuclear power stations in France. So far, no one has claimed responsibility for conducting these flights. French electric utility company EDF says the drones pose no risk whatsoever to the plants’ equipment or operations, but many nationwide are still uneasy.
drone-near-nuclear-plant

With 58 nuclear reactors spread out over 19 plants, France is the highest user of nuclear energy in Europe, and the second highest in the world, after the United States.

In a blog post published on the website Géneration NT,  Jérôme G. gives some insight into the matter:…….

Drones have successfully evaded all the power stations’ defenses. EDF also reports a number of drone overflights that differs from Greenpeace’s count. Pascal Riché, co-founder of rue89.nouvelobs.com, notes: Continue reading

December 10, 2014 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

France’s nuclear security problem: no way to detect small drones at low altitudes

drone-near-nuclear-plantFrance Backs Anti-Drone Research After Mystery Nuclear Flights, Bloomberg, By Tara Patel  tpatel2@bloomberg.net Dec 9, 2014, Paris  France is backing research on how to track and destroy drones as the mystery of who is behind a series of illegal flights over atomic sites remains unsolved.

The French National Research Agency will start a tender later this month for systems to “detect and even neutralize” drones, according to a statement from the Secretariat for Defense and National Security, which advises the president and prime minister.

Areva SA (AREVA)Electricite de France SA and Commissariat a l’Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives confirmed some 20 incidents since the middle of September of remote-controlled drone-like objects violating protected zones around their nuclear installations. The government vowed to put an end to the flights, which haven’t inflicted damage. No one has publicly claimed responsibility.

“The use of drones is bringing progress but with it new risks,” the national security committee said in yesterday’s statement.

The flights exposed a security weakness described by speakers at a parliamentary hearing last month in Paris. Top military and police officials joined experts from the nuclear industry and research organizations to testify before lawmakers on the kinds of drone technology that may be at work and the risks they pose. French radar systems aren’t adapted to detect so-called mini-drones weighing a few kilograms and flying at low altitudes, Denis Mercier, Chief of Staff of the French Air Force, told the hearing.

Drone industry representatives gave evidence on the sector’s exponential growth and lack of adequate supervision……http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-12-09/france-backs-anti-drone-research-after-mystery-nuclear-flights.html

December 10, 2014 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

France keen to sell nuclear reactors to Czech Republic (or indeed, anybody)

areva-medusa1French Companies Interestedin Expanding Czech Nuclear Program Sputnik News 9 Dec 14 During his visit to Prague, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said French state-controlled companies such as Electricite de France and Areva are interested in expdanding the Czech Republic’s nuclear program.

MOSCOW, December 9 (Sputnik) — French energy companies are interested in developing the Czech’s nuclear program, according to country’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

Dyring his visit to Prague on Tuesday, Valls told a Czech-French business forum that state-controlled companies such as utility Electricite de France and nuclear engineering giant Areva “are ready to react to the decision” to expand the country’s nuclear energy output, according to Associated Press……..http://sputniknews.com/business/20141209/1015660406.html

December 10, 2014 Posted by | France, marketing | Leave a comment

IAEA tells France to smarten up on nuclear power safety

IAEA recommends France raises funds, workforce for nuclear safety, Reuters,  PARIS Fri Nov 28, 2014 “……..As the reactors age, approaching 40-years old in the next decade, French nuclear watchdog ASN will need more frequent safety checks requiring more staff and funds, both hard to obtain given government budget constraints……..The head of ASN, Pierre-Frank Chevet, has regularly warned officials of the need to increase the authority’s budget and workforce, but has so far obtained only a fraction of its estimates…….

Chevet also called for a new tax on nuclear operators that would be ringfenced for nuclear safety.

The IAEA mission, which did not disclose the draft report to reporters, also identified issues in need for improvement in the regulatory framework for the control of medical exposure to radiation and in “processes needed to deliver ASN’s mandate.”………

The final report will be given to the French government and made public in about three months.  (Reporting by Michel Rose Editing by Jeremy Gaunt) http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/28/us-france-nuclear-safety-idUSKCN0JC1LF20141128

December 1, 2014 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

Security problems surround mysterious drone flights over France’s nuclear power plants

  Mystery drones are buzzing around French nuclear plants – should we be worried? The Conversation, Daniel Salisbury PhD Student and Research Assistant at King’s College London Christopher Hobbs Co-Director, Centre for Science and Security Studies (CSSS) at King’s College London 20 November 2014, 

 

Mysterious, seemingly coordinated, drones have appeared in the past month over a number of nuclear power stations in France. We don’t know what these flights are for or who is behind them. But perhaps the most crucial question they raise is whether this now widespread technology poses a threat to nuclear facilities.

Drone flights were first reported over at least 13 nuclear facilities in October. The flights have taken place mostly at night, involving drones of different sizes and capability, from smaller models that would need to be operated within the immediate vicinity to larger ones around two meters in size, which could be controlled from kilometres away. Flights have been carried out both in isolation and concurrently, with drones flown simultaneously over nuclear facilities hundreds of miles apart.

drone-near-nuclear-plant

Risk assessment

It is difficult to assess the risk posed by the recent drone flights as at this point it is unclear who is behind them and crucially what their intentions and capabilities are…….

worryingly, drones could be used to carry explosives for detonation close to the reactor or other sensitive parts of a nuclear site, although there have been no reports to date that these drones have been carrying a malicious cargo…….

Drones could also have other malicious uses. When mounted with small cameras, they could be used to conduct reconnaissance or to test security provisions before carrying out a follow-up attack by other means. Or they could be potentially used to drop equipment onsite to help out a malicious insider. A recent case in Belgium involving the sabotage of non-nuclear systems of a power station by an employee highlights that insiders can pose a real threat……..http://theconversation.com/mystery-drones-are-buzzing-around-french-nuclear-plants-should-we-be-worried-34447

November 22, 2014 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

In gloomy economic situation nuclear giant AREVA “suspends” its financial outlook for 2015 and 2016.

scrutiny-on-costsflag-franceFrench Nuclear Giant Areva Says Future Is Uncertain, Prompting a Sell-Off NYT,  By  and STANLEY REEDNOV. 19, 2014 PARIS — Areva, the French nuclear technology giant, has warned of an uncertain outlook for its business amid delays to important projects and sluggishness in the global atomic energy sector, sending its stock tumbling on Wednesday.

The company, which is about 87 percent state-owned, said late Tuesday that it was “suspending” its financial outlook for 2015 and 2016.

Areva cited cash flow problems related to its long-delayed nuclear plant project in Finland, on Olkiluoto Island, as well as Japan’s reluctance to restart reactors after the 2011 Fukushima disaster. The company noted “the still lackluster market” for providing services to existing nuclear plants, including in its crucial home market, which draws about three-quarters of its electricity from atomic power, the highest in the world………..

The company will burn through more than 400 million euros, or about $500 million, of cash this year, he said, and might need to raise as much as €2 billion in new capital to shore up its finances. Its share price fell about 16 percent on Wednesday. Compounding the shock was the fact that the company had reaffirmed its full-year profit and sales outlook on Oct. 31, even as it said revenue for the first nine months of 2014 fell more than 14 percent from a year earlier, to €5.6 billion………http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/20/business/international/french-nuclear-giant-areva-says-future-is-uncertain-prompting-a-sell-off.html?_r=0

November 22, 2014 Posted by | business and costs, France | Leave a comment

2015 the deadline for EDF to start closing nuclear reactors in France

radiation-sign-sadflag-franceEDF must start French nuclear closure in 2015 despite delay on replacement http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/19/france-nuclear-idUSL6N0T93HX20141119 PARIS Wed Nov 19, 2014 Nov 19 (Reuters) - EDF will still need to start shutting down some nuclear capacity in 2015 despite a new delay in finishing a replacement in northern France, the official in charge of the closure of France’s oldest plant said on Wednesday.

The French utility announced on Tuesday that it expects 1,600-megawatt Areva-designed EPR nuclear reactor in Flamanville,France, to be connected to the grid in 2017, instead of 2016.

That pushed back the production of the first megawatt of electricity to the last year of President Francois Hollande’s mandate, which terminates in May 2017. Closing the Fessenheim plant on the German border was a campaign pledge of Hollande’s.

The delay gave rise to talk that EDF could avoid closing the Fessenheim nuclear plant altogether if anew centre-right government came to power in May 2017 and repealed the energy transition law that caps nuclear capacity at 63.2 gigawatts.

But Jean-Michel Malerba, who is in charge of closing the 1,600-MW reactor, told Reuters that EDF will still have to request a production permit for Flamanville some 18 months before start-up and will also have to request a production withdrawal permit for the equivalent capacity in 2015.

“EDF will have to ask for a production authorisation for Flamanville in 2015, even if the start-up date is a bit delayed, and on that occasion they will have to declare which reactors they want to shut to obtain that authorisation,” he said.

The official said Article 55 of the energy transition bill, which won approval from the lower house of parliament last month, requires EDF to request a production authorisation no later than 18 months before April 2017.

Energy Minister Segolene Royal suggested in September that keeping Fessenheim open, where half a billion euros ($630 million) of maintenance investment has been made in recent years, was a possibility. (Reporting by Michel Rose)

November 22, 2014 Posted by | France, politics | Leave a comment

EDF’s nuclear power plants Flamanville and Olkiluoto delayed yet again

reactor-Olkiluoto_14EDF says French nuclear reactor delayed another year to 2017 , 

* New one-year delay adds up to 10-year building period

* EDF says Areva unable to deliver key ingredients in time

* EDF still committed to EPR for UK Hinkley Point project (Adds EDF quote, background)

PARIS, Nov 18 (Reuters) – French utility EDF announced a new one-year delay for its Areva-designed EPR nuclear reactor in Flamanville, France, which it now expects to be connected to the grid in 2017, a decade after construction started.

EDF said the delay was due to Areva’s difficulties with ensuring a timely delivery of certain pieces of equipment, such as the lid and internal structure of the reactor vessel. It also said Areva had briefed it on a steam generator welding defect.

Construction on the Flamanville EPR reactor started in 2007 and it had initially been scheduled to be connected to the electricity grid in 2012, but it has been delayed repeatedly…….Four EPRs are under construction worldwide, one in France, one in Finland and two in China, but the Finnish and French projects have been plagued by billion euro cost overruns and multiyear delays.

Construction on the first EPR in Olkiluoto, Finland started in 2005 and it had originally been scheduled to go live in 2009, but it is now expected that will occurr in late 2018, almost a decade later than originally planned. Construction will have lasted 13 years, if it is not delayed again……..

Last month, European Union competition authorities gave the green light for state subsidies to EDF’s 16 billion pound project to build two EPR reactors in Hinkley Point C in southwest Britain, which are expected to start producing power from 2023……..http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/11/18/edf-nuclear-idINL6N0T85BN20141118

November 19, 2014 Posted by | business and costs, Finland, France | Leave a comment

Drone flights still happening over France’s nuclear power plants

safety-symbol-Smflag-franceFrench nuclear power plant drone flights continue, model plane fans freed  Golfech nuclear plant on the edge of the Garonne river between Agen and Toulouse Reuters/Regis Duvignau By RFI  8 Nov 14 

The mysterious drone flights over French nuclear power stations continued on Thursday night but the authorities were no closer finding who is responsible after the release of two model plane enthusiasts arrested on Wednesday…….

the public prosecutor announced on Friday that they were just modelling enthusiasts who wanted to film a boat they had made on the lake next to the plant.

As many as five flights have taken place on the same night, leading to speculation that they are part of an organised campaign but anti-nuclear groups have denied responsibility and no-one else has confessed.

Officials did not admit publicly the flights were taking place until 24 days after the first on 5 October and are anxious to calm public fears over security. http://www.english.rfi.fr/environment/20141107-french-nuclear-power-plant-drone-flights-continue-model-plane-fans-freed

November 8, 2014 Posted by | France, incidents | Leave a comment

Again, mystery drone aircraft fly over France’s nuclear power plants

France records at least 15 mystery drone flyovers of nuclear power plants, ABC News 3 Nov 2014, A drone has flown over a nuclear plant in central France for the second time in two days, a source close to the case says. The unmanned flying machine went over the plant in Dampierre-en-Burly on Sunday evening, said the source, who wished to remain anonymous.

The power station had already been flown over on Friday evening.

Authorities are scratching their heads over the number of unidentified drones spotted over nuclear plants across France over the past month, and a probe has been launched to try and find out exactly who is piloting the remote-controlled machines.

They have counted at least 15 flyovers, sparking questions over the security of nuclear plants in France, which relies heavily on atomic energy for electricity……..http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-04/french-nuclear-plant-hit-by-another-mystery-drone-flyover/5864836

November 4, 2014 Posted by | France, incidents | 1 Comment

France and nuclear power: the end of the affair is coming?

plants-downIs France’s Love Affair with Nuclear Over? Oil Price, By Chris Dalby | Sun, 19 October 2014  French President Francois Hollande has promised to limit the growth of the country’s nuclear power, many older reactors have been targeted for decommissioning, and Greenpeace and other environmental groups have been relentless in their anti-nuclear campaigning. But until now, it seemed unlikely that France would ever truly rethink its love affair with nuclear power.

Last week, it did. On Oct. 10, France’s parliament voted to begin moving to undo decades of nuclear growth and to reduce its importance to the country’s energy mix. Over the next 11 years, France will reduce the amount of electricity coming from nuclear by one-quarter — from 75 percent to 50 percent. To do that, estimates are that as many as 20 of France’s 58 reactors would have to be closed.

The vote was part of a package of legal reforms in France’s long-awaited energy transition law, a main pillar of which was slowing nuclear power production and then maintaining it at the new lower level before progressively lowering it over the next 10 years.

The second pillar was removing bureaucratic hurdles that prevented renewable energy projects from getting off the ground. A trial period will see wind, solar, bio-gas and small hydro projects receive streamlined authorization in seven French regions.

A comparison of the contribution of renewables versus nuclear in France’s energy mix shows the massive disparity that the government is seeking to address. In June, France had 8,592MW of onshore wind installations and 5,095MW of PV, translating to 3.8 percent and 1 percent of the country’s energy needs. This compares to 63.2GWe of nuclear capacity.

The energy transition law aims to erase this imbalance. At 50 percent of national energy production, nuclear will remain the biggest source, but will be supported by a boosted renewables sector, with wind and solar levels similar to Germany’s…………

In March, around 60 Greenpeace protesters managed to spectacularly infiltrate Fessenheim in northeastern France, the country’s oldest nuclear power plant, which is set to be decommissioned in 2016. The activists deployed a huge banner on one of Fessenheim’s reactors, reading “Stop Risking Europe”, in support of their argument that France’s aging nuclear installations put all of Europe at risk, much like Chernobyl. Europe-Ecologie Les Verts (EELV), backed the protest at the time, widening a rift with Hollande’s Socialist Party that the energy transition law hopes to close……..

the pressure is on. Germany, Belgium and Switzerland are all abandoning nuclear power. Flagship nuclear firm Areva, which builds nuclear plants around the world, is not the profit-making juggernaut it once was. Nuclear is no longer as cost-competitive as it used to be compared to natural gas, wind and PV…….http://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Nuclear-Power/Is-Frances-Love-Affair-with-Nuclear-Over.html

October 21, 2014 Posted by | France, politics | 1 Comment

Cut back nuclear power, champion renewable energy – France’s parliament votes

flag-franceFrench MPs back cut to nuclear energy reliance http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/10/us-france-energy-idUSKCN0HZ1LB20141010 (Reuters) - A law which fixes a target of reducing French nuclear power production from 75 percent of the country’s energy supplies to 50 percent by 2025 won approval from the lower house of parliament on Friday.

France, the world’s most nuclear-reliant country, has faced increasing costs because of the price of maintaining aging plants and tighter regulations after the Fukushima disaster inJapan.

It also wants to develop its own industrial champions in the renewable energy industry, which is still tiny compared to other European countries such as neighbors Germany or Spain.

Its much-delayed energy transition law, steered by energy minister Segolene Royal, is being reviewed by the national assembly under a fast-track procedure, to counter the thousands of amendments proposed by opposition MPs. Although the bill skirts the question of how the reduction in theshare of nuclear energy is supposed to happen — it does not single out any reactor for closure, for instance – it caps nuclear electricity capacity at the current 63.2 gigawatts.

That would force EDF, which operates all of France’s nuclear reactors, to close an equivalent capacity when it launches the 1.6 gigawatt next-generation Flamanville reactor, due in 2016.

Royal said earlier this week the utility could choose to close another plant than Fessenheim, France’s oldest and the one Hollande had promised to shut down.

The whole bill is expected to be approved next Tuesday before being sent to the country’s upper house early next year, with the view to final adoption in the spring, in time for a high-profile climate conference hosted in Paris in 2015.

The bill also introduced a goal to halve the country’s energy consumption between 2012 and 2050, with a midway target of a 20 percent cut by 2030, thanks to tax rebates on insulation work and bonuses for electric car buyers.

France’s energy deficit — the difference between the money it spends on energy imports such as oil and gas and the money it earns on exports such as electricity — amounted to 66 billion euros ($83 billion) in 2013.

That compares with a wider trade deficit of 62.2 billion euros.

(Reporting by Emile Picy; Writing by Michel Rose; editing by Keith Weir)

October 13, 2014 Posted by | France, politics | Leave a comment

France moving away from nuclear power – transition to renewable energy

flag-franceFrench parliament backs nuclear cuts, Business Spectator AFP  10 OCT,  Lawmakers in France, the world’s most nuclear-dependent country, have voted to cut reliance on the energy source from more than 75 per cent to 50 per cent within a decade.

Friday’s vote is part of an ambitious makeover of France’s energy use promised by President Francois Hollande during his 2012 election campaign.

The measure calls for renewables to increase in the energy mix for electricity production, rising from 23 per cent in 2020 to 32 per cent in 2030.

Use of fossil fuels should drop to around 30 per cent.

The measure also sets a goal for a reduction of 40 per cent in greenhouse gas emissions from the 1990 levels by 2030 and a 75 per cent reduction in 2050. t also targets a 20 per cent reduction in energy consumation by 2030, in line with a draft project EU leaders are set to consider at an October 23-24 summit in Brussels…http://www.businessspectator.com.au/news/2014/10/10/resources-and-energy/french-parliament-backs-nuclear-cuts

October 11, 2014 Posted by | France, politics | Leave a comment

France doesn’t want domestic nuclear power, but keen to sell it to South Africa

fighters-marketing-1South Africa, France ink nuclear partnership, DW 10 Oct14 Only three weeks after partnering with Russia, South Africa has reached a similar nuclear agreement with France. The deals represent Pretoria’s renewed steps in building up the country’s nuclear energy program. outh Africa signed a nuclear power deal with France, the South African government announced Friday, as Pretoria aimed to expand its nuclear power to 9,600 MW.

President Jacob Zuma authorized “an agreement on cooperation in the development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy” with the French Republic, a statement from his office said.

The deal comes only three weeks after Africa’s second-largest economy reached a similar agreement with Russia, which will provide the country with eight nuclear reactors by 2023 in a $50 million (39.5-million-euro) contract.

But Russia has estimated the contract value to be more around tens of billions, as one reactor costs around $5 billion.

No further details on the deal with France were provided, and the circumstances surrounding the signing remain murky, according to local media reports……http://www.dw.de/south-africa-france-ink-nuclear-partnership/a-17987145

October 11, 2014 Posted by | France, marketing | 2 Comments

France’s Energy Dept ponders on costs of keeping old nuclear plants going: renewables may be cheaper

nukes-sad-flag-franceFrance to weigh costs of maintaining older plants in nuclear policy http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/10/05/france-nuclear-idINL6N0S00F220141005  PARIS Sun Oct 5, 2014 Oct 5 (Reuters) - France’s energy minister said on Sunday that the cost of maintaining older reactors would be factored into any decision on the future size of its large and aging nuclear power fleet.

The government already plans to shut the Fessenheim plant on the German border as part of a pledge to bring down atomic energy to 50 percent of French power output by 2025 from the current 75 percent, the highest share in the world.

But it has skirted the issue of whether to extend the operating life of its 58 nuclear reactors, which state-owned utility would like to prolong from 40 years to up to 60 years.

“Investments in reactors at the oldest plants don’t last forever. You then have to re-invest and that is very expensive,” Energy Minister Segolene Royal told France 3 television.

“If it costs a lot more to carry out maintenance to make older plants secure, it would be better to build renewable energy installations,” she said.

France, like other European countries, faces rising costs to maintain a nuclear fleet with an average age of about 30 years. EDF has estimated that extending the life of the plants would cost 55 billion euros.

About half of its reactors are due to reach the current 40-year limit during the 2020s. French nuclear watchdog ASN has said it will give an initial opinion on the issue next year. Royal is steering through parliament an energy transition bill that introduces a cap on nuclear power production, which would force EDF to close an equivalent capacity when it launches the 1,600 megawatt Flamanville reactor, due in 2016.

She said this week the government could choose to close another site than Fessenheim but dismissed as “fanciful” a 5 billion euro estimate made by two parliamentarians for the cost of closing Fessenheim. (Reporting by Gus Trompiz and Michel Rose; editing by Jane Baird)

October 6, 2014 Posted by | business and costs, France, politics | Leave a comment

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