French Nuclear Lemon Must not be Exported to US says Advocacy Group

April 3, 2008
April 1, 2008
4:12 PM

CONTACT: Beyond Nuclear
Linda Gunter, 301.270.2209 (o), 301.455.5655 (cl)
French Nuclear Lemon Must not be Exported to US says Advocacy Group
TACOMA PARK, MD – April 1 – The experimental French nuclear reactor – seven of which are potentially scheduled to be built in the U.S. – has already established a record of construction and safety flaws that could jeopardize public safety, new documents have revealed.

A letter from the French nuclear safety watchdog agency and leaked to Greenpeace France has revealed numerous technical errors and inconsistencies at the site of the first European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) to be built in France. The EPR – known as the “Evolutionary Pressurized Reactor” in the U.S. – is an untested, experimental design under construction at Flamanville, France and at Olkiluoto, Finland.

The Finnish reactor has already earned notoriety for technical failures, long delays and enormous cost-overruns.

The EPR is a product of Areva, the French nuclear giant that is more than 90 percent government-owned.

“It’s clear that the EPR is turning out to be a nuclear lemon,” said Linda Gunter of Beyond Nuclear. “These latest revelations confirm that the rush to expand nuclear energy is a risky enterprise beset by safety shortcuts and motivated by haste and profit.”

Beyond Nuclear recently released a scathing critique of the French nuclear industry, particularly the monumental radioactive waste problem created by its large nuclear energy infrastructure and polluting reprocessing programs.

“It’s time to call a halt to nuclear expansion plans in the U.S. and stem what could be a limitless tide of American taxpayer dollars flowing to the French government,” Gunter concluded.

Ironically, the latest EPR scandal was revealed just as French premier, Nicolas Sarkozy, was touting French nuclear technology to his British counterpart, U.K. prime minister, Gordon Brown. Together, the two leaders have made a pact – the “entente formidable” – to market nuclear energy around the world.

The problems in France mirror those that have occurred at the only other EPR construction site – at Olkiluoto in Finland – where delays, cost over-runs and similar technical mistakes with the concrete pour have set the project back at least two years. The Finnish cost over-run is currently estimated at $1.5 billion. Who ultimately pays the bill will likely be contested in court, but French taxpayers are expected to bear the brunt of the costs. In addition, Finnish electricity users will lose billions of Euros because of the delay.


Beyond Nuclear aims to educate and activate the public about the connections between nuclear power and nuclear weapons and the need to abandon both to safeguard our future. Beyond Nuclear advocates for an energy future that is sustainable, benign and democratic. Beyond Nuclear staff can be reached at: 301.270.2209. Or view our Web site at: