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EDF launches the “EPR2” After the Flamanville and Finland fiascoes, what could go wrong?

After the Flamanville and Finland fiascoes, what could go wrong?

EDF launches the “EPR2” — Beyond Nuclear International The politics of “fait accompli” will ensure a new industrial and financial disaster
Editor’s note: Despite the latest safety failures at the Taishan EPR in China; the endless delays and cost over-runs at the EPR projects in France and Finland; the technical fiascos and do-overs at the EPR construction sites in France, Finland and the UK; and the ongoing reckless plans for 6 EPRs in India, the French nuclear sector has far from abandoned its hubris. Instead, incredibly, and as Stéphane Lhomme tells us in a recent new blog on the topic, here translated into English, EDF has announced plans to begin construction of the “EPR2”. What could possibly go wrong?

By Stéphane Lhomme. 4 July 21,

Despite the fact that it has proven incapable of properly carrying out the construction of the EPR reactor at the never-ending Flamanville site underway since 2008, EDF leadership has nevertheless decided — according to the media outlet, Contexte — to allocate hundreds of millions of Euros to launch a construction program for new reactors, called “EPR2”.

Despite being fiercely pro-nuclear, President Macron has declared on several occasions that the EPR at Flamanville would need to be operational before any decision to build other reactors could be made.

However, it’s very likely that Mr. Macron is perfectly well aware of — and complicit in — this decision by EDF management to move forward with a new project.

Just as it has often done in the past, in its contempt for democracy and the interests of the French public, the leadership of EDF intends to use the politics of fait accompli: it proposes to spend hundreds of billions to start one or several “EPR2” reactor construction projects in order to then proclaim that the ship has sailed so the program cannot be stopped…. under threat of wasting hundreds of billions.

But it’s precisely by building nuclear reactors that EDF is already wasting astronomic sums, just as Areva did before that, going bankrupt due to the disastrous EPR construction project in Finland (which began in 2005, was supposed to come on line in 2009….but is still not complete)!

EDF claimed to have EPR construction under control despite Areva’s setbacks in Finland, but the construction at Flamanville is also a total catastrophe. So how can we possibly believe that, miraculously, EDF would be capable of building new EPR reactors, and moreover modified ones (hence the concept “EPR2”)?

For sure, from the anti-nuclear point of view, it is reassuring to be able to count on the incompetence and manifest inability of EDF to build nuclear reactors. But there is no justification for wasting incredible sums of money that are so needed for energy efficiency and renewable energy development.

On the contrary, EDF is guaranteeing failure with these delusional nuclear projects, and, as is the case for Areva (renamed Orano), it is the public who will pay for the steep losses. If this “EPR2” program is not stopped as quickly as possible, it will end in a new industrial and financial disaster.

The least that the President of the Republic can do, assuming that he has a good grasp on democracy, is to prohibit EDF (which is 85% state-owned) from launching this new nuclear program before the startup of the Flamanville EPR.

But obviously the best decision would be to cancel all the new reactor projects and immediately to begin a rapid closure of the 56 reactors that pose a daily threat to the lives of French citizens and a majority of Europeans; reactors that produce radioactive waste for which there is no existing solution and that serve as a pretext for the totalitarian repression of citizens who oppose waste burial at the Cigéo at Bure in the Meuse.

Stéphane Lhomme is a longtime French anti-nuclear campaigner and runs the anti-nuclear network, Nuclear Observatory (Observatoire Du Nucléaire).

Headline photo of EPR protest in Colmar, France, by Linda Pentz Gunter.

July 5, 2021 Posted by | France, technology | 2 Comments

Under cover of the nation’s preoccupation with the pandemic, France changes the rules, to permit nuclear installations in urbanised areas.

A government decree authorizes the construction of nuclear installations in urbanized or urbanizable areas. While the media, health and political institutions are grinding the brains of citizens with a virus, the government continues to issue decrees spiraling out of control.

This time, on June 29, 2021, a decree dispensing with the town planning code will allow the establishment of nuclear installations in urbanized areas, including where people reside! The ministers of ecology and housing signed this crap. The whole territory is now at the mercy of nuclear predation. It’s radioactivity in your garden or on the balcony.

Insanity presides over autocratic political power and lobbying.

 Co-ordination Antinucleaire 2nd July 2021

July 5, 2021 Posted by | France, politics, safety | Leave a comment

How Taishan almost became China’s Chernobyl.  

How Taishan almost became China’s Chernobyl. Ian Williams, 4 July 21,

Days after a nuclear power plant began spewing deadly radiation, the ruling Communist party pushed ahead with a huge and self-indulgent celebration of the sort that had become a hallmark of its rule. This was no time for bad news, and the party delayed, dithered and hid the truth about the deadly events that were unfolding.

That was the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. Soviet leaders allowed Kiev’s International Workers’ Day celebrations to go ahead. The participants, meanwhile, were oblivious to events at the stricken reactor just 60 miles away. The images of those May Day celebrations have come to symbolise the party’s criminal dishonesty, and they were nearly echoed after a technical glitch hit the Taishan nuclear power plant in Guangdong province early last month, just weeks before the Chinese Communist party’s centenary.

Thankfully it did not turn into another Chernobyl, but the response of the authorities in China was chillingly reminiscent of those dark days in Ukraine. 

On 16 June, the Chinese government said that there had been an incident with the fuel rods at a nuclear plant, but this information took over a week to get out: a close reminder that authoritarian states repel uncomfortable truths. On 8 June, US authorities were reportedly informed that there was an ‘imminent radiological event’ at the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant in Guangdong Province, just 80 miles from Hong Kong. The Chinese safety authorities were reportedly raising the acceptable limits for radiation detection outside the plant in order to avoid having to shut it down. The French company who part-owned the plant, Framatome, needed to obtain a US waiver to obtain the technical information needed to solve the problem – a problem the Chinese authorities at the time had not even acknowledged existed. 

After reports were broadcast by CNN, Framatome issued a statement saying it was trying to resolve a ‘performance issue’ at the plant, in which it has a 30 per cent stake. The Chinese firm, CGN, refused to comment, though the plant said that everything was ‘normal’. Only on 16 June did the Chinese government inform the International Atomic Energy Authority that there had been an issue with some damaged fuel rods. It described the issue as a common occurrence, which did not trigger safety concerns.

It could have been far worse. The technical details are reassuring, but they were far too slow to come out. Had this been a wholly-owned Chinese plant, we would still be completely in the dark. It is chillingly reminiscent not only of the early days at Chernobyl, but also the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak. During those early days in Wuhan there was open speculation that Xi Jinping had finally reached his ‘Chernobyl moment’ – the disaster that would hasten the demise of a monolithic communist party.

There is visibly a pattern emerging in China which we have seen in authoritarian regimes before. Bad news is quashed and denied. The Chinese Communist party is secretive by nature, and regards itself as accountable to nobody. This has been exacerbated by Xi Jinping’s concentration of power. Officials are afraid to pass bad news up the food chain, preferring to tell the emperor what he wants to hear. In democracies, bad news travels to the top quickly. In autocracies, less so.

Britain has an especially pressing reason to pay attention to events at the Chinese power plant. The Chinese and French firms are also collaborating on the £22 billion Hinkley Point nuclear plant now under construction in Somerset, which will use the same technology. A second joint project in Suffolk has yet to begin construction. The Chinese firm is also angling to build its own reactor at Bradwell in Essex – the first Chinese-designed plant outside its own borders, with Beijing wanting to widen markets for its nuclear technology.

Allowing the Chinese firm which has close links to the Communist party to play such a crucial role in such a sensitive part of Britain’s most critical infrastructure was always foolhardy. It looks even more so in the light of the CCP’s behaviour at Taishan. The party is so wilfully lacking in transparency that it should never be in charge of a nuclear power plant in its own country, let alone on the coast of Britain. The British government has the power to do something about it. The question is whether it has the will. 

July 5, 2021 Posted by | China, politics | Leave a comment

UK Treasury’s new green savings bonds says YES to wind energy, NO to nuclear

the nuclear energy aspect had been scrapped in the process of working out suitable investments.

Yes to wind, no to nuclear: the green bonds investment planSavers can be part of £15bn scheme with just £100m

 Sunday July 04 2021, The Sunday Times The money raised through the Treasury’s new green savings bonds will not be used to fund any nuclear energy projects, despite the power source being a crucial part of the government’s ten-point plan towards net zero.

The term net zero means achieving a balance between the carbon emitted into the atmosphere and the carbon removed from it.

Investors might be able to help fund the government’s plans to “build back better and greener” as early as September, when it is expected that the first tranche of bonds will be launched.

Farnam Bidgoli, the head of environmental, social and governance (ESG) solutions at HSBC, said that the nuclear energy aspect had been scrapped in the process of working out suitable investments. “When doing our market research,……….. (subscribers only

July 5, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

The space tourism plans of Bezos, Musk and Branson are morally reprehensible,

Ben Bramble sets out a problem that ought to be so obvious – that this space travel push is a wasteful, and even childish example of the rich boys club doing its thing –   Bezos, Musk, Gates, Branson  etc trying to outdo each other  

But there is a more sinister side to space travel and space research –   the national rivalries, started with Donald Trump’s plan for a Space Force –     nuclear reactors, nuclear-powered rockets, and nuclear weapons in space.   Those billionaires are all too well connected with NASA and this space military push. The thought of a nuclear war in space is horrendous.   But what else could possibly go wrong?

The space tourism plans of Bezos, Musk and Branson are morally reprehensible, The Age, Ben Bramble, 5 July 21.

With billionaires Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Richard Branson soon to send paying customers into space, members of US Congress are askingwhether and how to regulate commercial spaceflight. But there is a more basic question: Should there be such an industry in the first place?

Supporters of such an industry, such as Republican Kevin McCarthy, cast these billionaires as modern-day Wright brothers, innovating commercialspaceflight in a way governments either can’t or won’t. While billionaires will be the first in space, they say, soon everyone will get their chance.

But this is clearly not feasible any time soon, given Earth’s environmental crises. It is unsustainable for humans to keep consuming resources at the rate we currently are, let alone if space tourism were to become commonplace. The fact that a product can be made cheap enough for many people to afford it does not show that it is environmentally sustainable for many people to actually consume it.

Still, you might say, what could be wrong with commercial spaceflight reserved for the ultra-wealthy? This wouldn’t significantly worsen our environmental crises.–

But there is something morally distasteful in the extreme about space tourism exclusively for the ultra-wealthy when so many people on Earth are in such great need. Going into space, in full view of the many billions of humans who are struggling on a daily basis, is a little like enjoying a pop-up Michelin star meal in front of a homeless shelter.

This is not to decry all luxury goods. But there is something particularly objectionable about spending so much money on a fleeting experience for oneself and others, who are already among the best off on the planet, when so many cannot even make ends meet (through no fault of their own).

At present, there seems a clear tendency to reserve moral criticism for people who cause bad things or who set out to harm others. Such behaviour is certainly bad and merits criticism. But we should feel grumpy also at people for failing to help others when they easily can. Those who display an indifference to the plight of others or who are too wrapped up in themselves and their own self-serving projects are morally criticisable even if they are not the cause of others’ suffering. While it is true that Bezos has recently become a major sponsor of the environment, much more is needed. Every dollar spent on sending billionaires into space is money that could have been used instead to help save the planet or bring others out of poverty.

It is worth adding that many billionaires have contributed to Earth’s problems. Our environmental crises are largely due to excessive consumption, something that companies such as Amazon have played a major role in making possible, affordable and accepted……….

Bezos has said that one of his reasons for founding his company Blue Origin is that “we’re now big compared to the size of the planet”. Like Musk, he thinks we need to look beyond Earth to survive our present crises. But this is far too premature. We can still save the Earth. But to save it, we’re going to have to re-engineer our consumer cultures and economies. This, and not space tourism, is the great engineering challenge of the 21st century. I’d like to see these billionaires use their brilliant minds to help save the Earth, rather than flee it. If this means smaller growth for their own companies, so be it. …..

July 5, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Religion and ethics, space travel | 1 Comment

Global heating: “unprecedented” heatwave temperatures will become routine.


With the global climate warming, such “unprecedented” heatwave temperatures will start to become routine. Some parts of the world may simply become too hot for human habitation. Not only will heatwaves become more common, but hotter, drier conditions will lead to more wildfires.

Times 4th July 2021, Canada experienced its highest recorded temperature last week as the mercury surged to 49.6C in British Columbia on Tuesday. This is not onlythe highest temperature for Canada, but the hottest ever recorded above the 45th parallel north, roughly the latitude of Bordeaux and Bologna. In the US, the states of Washington, Oregon and Idaho also broke records.

The Pacific northwest is roasting. Hundreds have died. In Pakistan, the city of Jacobabad can reach 52C. As temperatures hit nearly 50C there last week, ts scorching streets were deserted as people tried to shelter at home, most without air-conditioning. The hospitals were flooded with heatstroke victims.

With the global climate warming, such “unprecedented” heatwave temperatures will start to become routine. Some parts of the world may simply become too hot for human habitation. Not only will heatwaves become more common, but hotter, drier conditions will lead to more wildfires.

In January last year, before Covid-19 dominated the news, Australia was aflame with massive areas of bushfire. Hurricanes and typhoons will also become more intense. Tropical diseases will spread. We’ll find it harder to feed
ourselves. And the problems won’t be shared evenly. Some regions will receive less rainfall and lose crops to drought, others will receive more and lose crops to flooding. There will be a global reconfiguration of where food can reliably be grown, and where people can safely live.

The climate refugees of today are only the first trickle of what could become a mass migration of people into parts of the world still offering habitable conditions – a movement of humanity unlike anything seen before in history. It is unlikely that this large-scale population disruption, combined with dwindling resources such as fresh water, will come without conflict.

The next wars could well be climate wars. It was human ingenuity and resourcefulness that got us into this mess, and I am hopeful that our same capabilities will find the way out again too.

July 5, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment