Sarkozy says "no question" of closing oldest French nuclear plant
Feb 9, 2012, 14:38 GMT
Paris - French President Nicolas Sarkozy told workers at the country's oldest nuclear plant on the border with Germany Thursday that to close the plant, as demanded by anti-nuclear groups, would be a 'colossal error.'
Sarkozy's challenger for president in April/May elections, Socialist candidate Francois Hollande, has pledged he will close the 34-year-old Fessenheim plant if elected.
Sarkozy, an ardent defender of nuclear power, said there was 'no question' of closing Fessenheim.
'Wanting to close Fessenheim is a scandal because it's sacrificing your jobs for political gain,' Sarkozy, who has yet to announce he is seeking reelection but is already in campaign mode, told the plant's staff.
The Fessenheim plant lies four kilometres from the German border in Alsace on the banks of a canal running alongside the Rhine river.
German and French anti-nuclear campaigners say its twin 900-megawatt reactors are dilapidated and vulnerable to flooding and earthquakes. The plant is in an area of moderate seismicity.
The country's nuclear safety authority (ASN) cleared the plant to remain in operation for another 10 years, on condition that the concrete floor in the No 1 reactor be thickened.
All the country's 58 nuclear plants passed stress tests carried out in the wake of the post-quake meltdown at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi plant in March 2011.
The ASN did, however, demand steps to increase their robustness faced with extreme events 'as soon as possible.'
While Germany decided to close all its remaining nuclear plants, France remains firmly wedded to nuclear power.
Hollande, whose party has signed an election pact with the Greens, says he would reduce the share of nuclear in the energy mix from 75 per cent to 50 per cent if elected.