After Fukushima disaster, all eyes are on the countries that promoted nuclear energy within their boundaries. This was the case with Germany, which changed its policy due to popular claims. Now it is France’s turn, after the release of a report by the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) which states that no nuclear plant should face an immediate shutdown, but that there is the need of tens of billions of euros in investment to boost their security measures.
The announcement is particularly important based on the fact that France is the most nuclear-dependant country in the world, with 58 currently working reactors providing around 75% of the country’s electricity needs. It also exports a substantial amount of energy to neighbouring countries. France’s case is usually given as an example of a successful nuclear energy policy.
The long-awaited report by ASN gives arguments to both pro-nuclear and anti-nuclear groups. On one side, it maintains that the current level of safety of every nuclear facility is enough not to request an immediate shutdown; on the other, the authorities should take measures “as rapidly as possible” to prevent damages from natural risks like earthquakes or floods, among other threats to their normal operation.
The main concern is that this additional cost will cause electricity prices to rise and make some of the reactors unsustainable. For the moment, the ruling party keeps supporting nuclear energy, while the main opposition party, the Socialist Party, defends to shut down half of the reactors by 2025. In an election year, ballot boxes will decide.