"Illegitimate and dangerous" reactor for the sake of French nuclear industry

Press release - 30 January, 2009
Greenpeace condemns the announcement made by French President Nicolas Sarkozy yesterday evening that a new European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) is to be built in Penly, France. It is Greenpeace's belief that building yet another reactor is entirely illegitimate and dangerous.

"This decision was taken without any public consultation, open bidding or analysis of energy needs. It has no justification other than to provide a massive contract to the state-owned nuclear industry, which has a poor safety and environmental record," said Jan Beránek, Greenpeace International Energy Campaigner. "In these times of fiscal crisis it is crucial to make the right choices - and investment instead in renewable energy would provide not only climate protection and cleaner energy, but more and better jobs and a truly sustainable state infrastructure."

Two ongoing EPR construction projects - in Olkiluoto, Finland, and Flamanville, France - have already been hampered by chronic problems, delays and cost overruns. The reactor in Finland was originally planned to be finished by April 2009, but now faces at least three years' delay. Its cost has already doubled to over €5 billion. Serious construction and safety problems have been identified, but the industry has not learned anything from the experience. The very same mistakes have plagued the second EPR construction that started only a year ago, but which is already delayed by nine months and running at 20% over its budget.

"No other options, such as energy efficiency or renewable energy potential, have been considered. No comparisons have been made with the Penly reactor in terms of costs, environmental impacts, needs and other aspects," added Yannick Rousselet, Greenpeace France. "The official study analysing France's electricity needs beyond 2020, which was launched late last year, is still ongoing so there is nothing to justify this step of building a new EPR. On the contrary, the decision to pour vast amounts of money into building another problematic reactor sidetracks plans for the expansion of clean, renewable energy that will be crucial for France and enable it to achieve EU targets for 2020."

France is already the largest exporter of electricity in Europe, with a net annual export of 60 TWh, equivalent to four large reactors.

Nuclear energy undermines the solutions to climate change by diverting urgently needed resources away from the true renewable and energy efficiency solutions. Greenpeace's Energy [R]evolution blueprint shows that renewable energy, and greater energy efficiency can deliver half of the world's energy needs by 2050, without nuclear power.

Other contacts: Jan Beránek, Greenpeace International, +31 651 109 558
Yannick Rousselet, Greenpeace France, +33 685 806 559