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Environment

Oldest nuclear reactor in France to close in 2016

media The French President has pledged to close the Fessenheim nuclear reactor … Reuters/Vincent Kessler/Files

The French President, François Hollande, has pledged to close the nation’s oldest nuclear reactor a year earlier than previously announced.

“The Fessenheim plant, which is the oldest in our country, will be closed at the end of 2016 in conditions that will guarantee the supply needs of the region…and safeguard all jobs,” Hollande says at the start of a two-day energy conference in Paris.

Hollade had previously pledged to close the reactor by 2017.

France, the world’s most nuclear-dependent country, operates 58 reactors and has been a leading international proponent of atomic energy.

But in a deal with the Greens before this year’s parliamentary and presidential elections, Hollande’s Socialist party promised to cut the reliance on nuclear energy from more than 75 percent of of energy needs to 50 percent by 2025.

The Fessenheim plant, on the banks of the Rhine river, is considered vulnerable to seismic activity and flooding.

Two workers suffered burns when steam escaped from the plant earlier this month.

Hollande also announced that seven proposals to use hydraulic drilling to explore coal seam gas have been rejected, but did not specify which ones.

“In the current form, no one can say that gas and shale exploration through hydraulic drilling, the only technique known today, is not exempt from posing great health and environment risks,” he says.

Coal seam gas exploration involves a controversial technique called fracking, which uses water to pump chemicals into shale seams to release the gas.

Environmentalists around the world have campaigned against using this technique.

At the conference, the French President also announced France would be ready to host a United Nations climate conference in 2015, the year when the would is due to sign an accord to limit global warming to no more than two degrees.

 

 

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