Controversial nuclear power plant in Fessenheim finally shut down

Controversial nuclear power plant in Fessenheim finally shut down

The French Nuclear power plant in Fessenheim near the German border has finally been switched off. The operator of Electricité de France said that the second and last reactor of the oldest French nuclear power plant was shut down at 11 p.m. The first reactor was already in February ceased operation.

The power station on the border, which was connected to the grid in 1977, was viewed by critics Baden-Wuerttemberg as a security risk for decades. Opponents of nuclear power in Germany and Switzerland had therefore campaigned for a shutdown. French President Emmanuel Macron had met these demands with the end of the nuclear power plant located about 30 kilometers southwest of Freiburg. Both countries were concerned about frequent accidents and the earthquake risk on the Upper Rhine.

The shutdown was originally planned for the end of 2016, the then head of state François Hollande but did not keep his promise. Paris justified this at the time with delays in the construction of a new reactor in Flamanville in northern France.

German politicians and environmental activists welcomed the decommissioning. The State Secretary for Environment, Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter (SPD), has long passed the zenith of nuclear power. The shutdown of the nuclear power plant in Fessenheim also made Germany and Switzerland safer.

In Fessenheim, on the other hand, there was little enthusiasm on Monday. Around 2500 people in the Alsatian community fear for their livelihood: By 2023, only 294 of them will be needed, after that only 60. At the end of 2017, the Fessenheim plant still employed over a thousand people and service providers. "What pain – what happens here is inhumane," the CGT union wrote on Twitter.

Down, up – and down again

Only last week was the reactor after a lightning strike been shut down unplanned. According to the operator, the incident did not affect the safety of the power plant. The power plant was on Saturday evening put back into operation – only to finally switch it off two days later.

A German-French innovation park is now to be built on the site. Decades will pass before the site can be used. According to the operator, five years are planned for the preparation of the dismantling, the dismantling itself should then take another 15 years.

After the complete shutdown in Fessenheim, 56 pressurized water reactors will still be in operation in France. According to the network operator, they accounted for around 71 percent of electricity production last year. That is by far the largest share worldwide. In addition to the two reactors in Fessenheim, others have already exceeded the planned age limit of 40 years.

Icon: The mirror

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