World France, unplugged at the Fessenheim nuclear power plant after...

France, unplugged at the Fessenheim nuclear power plant after 43 years

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PARIS – The French nuclear power plant in Fessenheim, the oldest in the country, finally pulled the plug yesterday after 43 years of service, starting the very slow disengagement of Paris from atomic energy. The second (and last) reactor that remained active was closed yesterday by the EDF around 4.30pm. The power of the pressurized water mechanism – 900 megawatts at full speed – slowly started to drop and around midnight, when it dropped to around 8%, Fessenheim was forever disconnected from the national electricity grid.

The closure of the plant, built in 1977 in Alsace on the border with Switzerland and Germany, is the first step in the very slow disengagement of Paris from nuclear power and it arrived, with a very symbolic coincidence, only 24 hours after the triumph of environmentalists in the local transalpine elections . France today generates 71% of its electricity from the atom. The former President of the Republic Nicholas Sarkozy had initiated a plan to reduce the atomic component in national electricity production to 50% in 2025, but the date was postponed by Emmanuel Macron ten years later. “It was an unachievable target,” said the president in 2018, updating the deadline under the national energy transition plan to 2035. Fourteen of the 56 reactors still active in the country will be shut down by that date.


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The farewell to Fessenheim comes after years of protests by the ecological movements of France, Switzerland and Germany, concerned not only with the risk of accidents in an old plant but also with the seismicity of the area in which it was built. However, the dismantling of the plant will last a long time: the start of operations is expected in 2023 with the removal and disposal of radioactive fuel, while the demolition of the structure will start in 2025 with the end of the works set in 2040. The closure of the last Reactor was celebrated by a group of ecologists on site while a group of pro-nuclear protesters protested outside Greenpeace’s headquarters in Paris with slogans such as “Less nuclear equals more coal”.

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