Wednesday, July 31, 2013

France's problems with uranium mining and nukes!

France gets nearly 80% of its electricity from its 58 reactors. However, such a heavy reliance on nuclear power brings with it many major, unsolved problems, most especially that of radioactive waste. Despite assertions to the contrary, the French nuclear story is far from a gleaming example of nuclear success.

Suicide bomber strikes at French uranium mine in Niger

As a reminder once again that the possession of nuclear resources can trigger violence, a suicide bomber struck at the Areva-owned Arlit uranium mine in Niger on May 23rd, killing one person and injuring more than a dozen others. The attack was perpetrated by an Al Qaeda jihadist simultaneously with an attack on a military base in Agadez, Niger. The attacker drove inside the Arlit complex in a vehicle loaded with 400 kilograms of explosives. The incident exposed once again the security vulnerabilities at the site, already the source of controversy given the extreme water depletion caused by the operation and the pervasive high level of radioactive contamination of air, water, soils and rocks. Niger is one of the biggest sources of uranium in the world. French industrial giant, Areva, an arm of the French government, also mines uranium in Canada and Kazakhstan. Niger is rated as one of the poorest countries in the world and the locals see little benefit from the exploitation of uranium which has also destroyed the pastoral traditions of the indigenous Tuareg peoples. (Pictured, a typical house of a uranium miner in Arlit.) The independent laboratory, CRIIRAD, has done extensive investigations and analysis in Niger.Read more.

Bure waste dump plan reaches "public inquiry" phase

Having based its power system on nuclear energy since the mid 1970s, France has accumulated around 2700 cubic metres of high-level radioactive waste and about 40,000 cubic metres of long-lived intermediate-level radioactive waste. Between them these contain 99% of the radioactivity from nuclear power generation. A highly controversial geological burial site has been chosen near Bure that straddles the Meuse and Haute-Marne regions. A research facility is currently in place there - along with a permanent "vigilance" of opposition. Now the "public" inquiry phase has begun. A series of public meetings will be held through Oct. 15, 2013, and the government and regulators will consider the outcome when they decide whether to approve the site.Andra, the waste-management agency spearheading the plan, wants to start construction in 2019 and begin operations in 2025.

Nuclear France and the uranium fuel chain

A simple and compelling dramatization of the insanity of nuclear dependency in France.


March 9th human chain in Paris to remember Fukushima

Everyone to Paris, Saturday, March 9th!  For those who can - and for the rest of us who'd like to - the French anti-nuclear network will be assembling in Paris in a human chain to remember Fukushima and call for an end to nuclear power.
Démesurément dangereux et coûteux, le nucléaire soumet les humains et tous les êtres vivants à des pollutions et à une menace inacceptables. Hiroshima, Tchernobyl, Fukushima : aucune autre technologie n’a créé en si peu de temps des catastrophes si « durables ». Avec 58 réacteurs, le parc nucléaire français représente un risque majeur, pour nous et nos voisins européens. Attendrons-nous que la centrale de Nogent-sur-Seine, à 95 km de Paris, devienne le Fukushima français ?
Immeasurably dangerous and expensive, nuclear energy submits humans and all other living things to contamination and an unacceptable threat. Hiroshima, Chernobyl, Fukushima: no other technology can, in such  short time, create such "long-lasting" catastrophes. With 58 reactors, the French nuclear complex represents a major risk, for us and for our European neigbors. Are we going to wait for the Nogent-sur-Seine reactor, 95 kilometers from Paris, to become the French Fukushima?

Areva loses a bundle in 2012

France's state-controlled nuclear engineering giant Areva lost $130 million in 2012 and its business is struggling to move past the Japan's nuclear disaster and a troubled mining venture. The company lost (EURO)2.5 billion in 2011, a year that saw many countries rethink their use of the nuclear energy after the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the Fukushima power plant. Much of those losses were due to a troubled uranium mining venture that was the subject of investigation.