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Tech & Science Fessenheim. The shutdown of reactor No. 2 started in advance

21:26  29 june  2020
21:26  29 june  2020 Source:   ouest-france.fr

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Centrale Nucléaire EDF, près de Fessenheim, le 20 février 2020. © ARND WIEGMANN / REUTERS EDF Nuclear Power Plant, near Fessenheim, on February 20, 2020.

The procedure to shut down the second reactor of the Fessenheim nuclear power plant began this Monday, June 29 at 4:30 p.m., a few hours ahead of the schedule originally announced.

It is a twilight celebrated as a victory by the anti-nuclear forces but experienced as a heartbreak by the employees and the inhabitants . The procedure for the final shutdown of the second reactor at the Fessenheim nuclear power plant began on Monday, June 29 at 4:30 p.m., a few hours ahead of the announced schedule.

The operation, similar to that which led to the shutdown of the first reactor on February 22, was scheduled to start at 11:30 p.m. but finally started seven hours earlier, an EDF spokesperson announced, without advancing specific reason.

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“It's inhuman what's going on”

The power of this pressurized water reactor (the technology that equips the 56 remaining reactors in the French fleet) of 900 megawatts will slowly decline until it reaches 8% of its capacity, normally around 11:30 p.m., the power station then being definitively disconnected from the electricity network.

And that's it. The drop in load starts ... How painful it is inhuman what is happening, tweeted the CGT antenna of the plant.

Located on the banks of the Rhine, near Germany and Switzerland, the oldest power station in France thus delivers its last watts, the end point after years of turmoil, debate and postponement of its judgment.

"A step, not an outcome"

Finally, out of 58 reactors, there is one that closes, rejoiced Jean-Marie Brom, from the association Stop Transports-Halte au Nucléaire, during a conference of press of anti-nuclear associations aboard a boat sailing on the Rhine, on the border between France and Germany. A symbol of Franco-German friendship in the fight against nuclear power plants, according to André Hatz, president of Stop Fessenheim.

Fessenheim: the final shutdown on June 29 of the nuclear power plant could weaken France next winter

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French and German anti-nuclear activists have planned to meet at the end of the afternoon on a bridge overlooking the Rhine, but do not intend to go to Fessenheim itself, some ten kilometers away, so as not to provoke. Green MEP Michèle Rivasi welcomed a milestone, but not a success, as the timetable for shutdown of other reactors has not been set.

In Vieux-Brisach, the German bank of the Rhine, around twenty activists waited for the boat with yellow and red Atomkraft flags? Nein danke (Nuclear energy? No thanks). For ten years every Monday evening, Cilla, a 73-year-old retired educator and Gisela, 77, have been demonstrating in the center of Vieux-Brisach to demand the closure of this plant, the oldest in France and which still had problems.

We’re glad it’s finally turned off, Cilla says. But the danger is still there, stresses Gisela, the anti-nuclear fearing the conditions of storage of the nuclear fuel planned on the site of Fessenheim for at least three years.

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The dismantling of the plant promises to be long: 15 years are planned to dismantle the two reactors, starting with the evacuation of the highly radioactive fuel scheduled to be completed in 2023. The actual dismantling, unprecedented in France on this scale , should begin around 2025 and continue at least until 2040.

Victory for French, German and Swiss anti-nuclear forces, some of whom have campaigned for decades against Fessenheim, this closure, on the contrary, is angering employees of the central and most of the 2,500 inhabitants of the eponymous village. Only sixty EDF employees will remain to conduct its dismantling around 2024. At the end of 2017, there were still 750, to which 300 service providers should be added.

Economic air gap

As for the inhabitants of this formerly modest village, they lived for decades thanks to the significant economic and fiscal spinoffs of this installation and fear a big economic air gap: no project is officially stopped for after Fessenheim.

Closing the power plant, when it is in good working order and has passed all the safety tests, is absurd and incomprehensible, gets angry mayor Claude Brender.

Promise of campaign of François Hollande in 2012, this closure had been postponed repeatedly, before being acted on in April 2017.

As a wink of fate: Friday morning, the reactor n ° 2 underwent a shutdown automatic after a lightning strike on high voltage lines near the power plant. It restarted smoothly on Saturday and will be turned off again Monday evening, three days later. This time forever.

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