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France’s nuclear corporation faces massive costs for decommissioning nuclear reactors

Nuclear reactor clean-up weighs on EDF,, 19 Apr 16,  Michael Stothard in Paris French utility faces questions about whether it has set aside enough to decommission power plants

nuke-reactor-deadIn 1997 French utility EDF started to dismantle its first nuclear power plant, a 30-year-old heavy water reactor in Brennilis, north-western France. It was expected to cost €250m.

The bill is now set to be at least half as much again, and the decommissioning is still not done. In fact, there has never been a full dismantling of a reactor in France, the only European country to get three-quarters of its electricity from nuclear power.

EDF, the operator of all 58 of France’s reactors, is preparing to build a new £18bn plant at Hinkley Point in the UK that some at the Paris-based company have warned is too dangerous given its stretched balance sheet. EDF’s other big reactor project, at Flamanville in France, is already six years behind schedule and €7.2bn over budget.

Hinkley and Flamanville have focused attention on another looming challenge for EDF: has the company set aside enough money to cover the huge cost of dismantling and cleaning up its existing nuclear power stations in France?

Unlike the UK, where the state has assumed much of the financial risk of taking apart nuclear reactors, in France it all falls on EDF, which has established a €23bn special fund for this purpose.

The €23bn — much of it invested in equities and bonds — has been set aside to cover what EDF estimates will be the €54bn cost of decommissioning the 58 reactors and safely storing their radioactive waste. This includes €23bn for dismantling the power stations, and €26bn for managing spent fuel………..

EDF faces several major investments. As well as the £18bn Hinkley Point project, EDF is involved in bailing out reactor designer Areva by buying a controlling stake in its reactor business for €2.5bn. It is also extending the life of France’s existing nuclear power stations until 2025, at a cost of €55bn.

And it is not just the decommissioning of the 58 reactors that is of concern. The estimated cost of storing radioactive waste — potentially for thousands of years — has been steadily rising………..


April 20, 2016 - Posted by | decommission reactor, France

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