November 2000 Editorial
The end of a myth
Summer is the high season for politics in France.
Nothing else is happening, and the stage is free. A surprising number
of delicate political decisions are made in the seventh and eighth months
of the year. It is not yet clear into which category the report from
the Charpin-Dessus-Pellat mission, handed to Prime Minister Lionel Jospin
at the end of July 2000, will fall: to be passed on, or to be buried.
The diverse backgrounds of these "three musketeers", respectively
Commissioner for planning, Director of the Ecodev program at the CNRS,
and High Commissioner for Atomic Energy, prompted the Minister for Environment
to say, "this is probably the first equitable report in the
history of nuclear energy in France". Perhaps. But it still
has to be read.
The main 250-page volume is entitled "Étude
économique prospective de la filière électrique
nucléaire" (forecast economic study for nuclear energy)
and the report is published with three annexes dedicated to the analysis
of the current reactor generation and the prospective for nuclear and
non-nuclear technologies. Those who do read it will find many data and
a few truths which it is not always easy to express (in France). For
example, the additional cost for the plutonium sector is around 164
billion Francs over the life of the nuclear energy installed base.
Since the appearance of Investigation Plutonium,
exactly three years ago, the amount of plutonium stored in France has
risen by 13 tonnes to reach 78 tonnes, of which around 41 tonnes are
of French origin. Plutonium is extracted at a very high price and no
electricity company in the world would accept to take it on for free
(see Plut'Info). The French stockpile
corresponds more or less to the amount of plutonium separated in the
UP2-800 plant in La Hague since it came into service. The value of plutonium
has now reached negative levels. The obvious has to be faced. This is
the end of a myth, but who will take the consequences?
to contents To
be continued (Dossier : France)
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