Public debate on EPR2s: anti

Palaiseau (Essonne), report

In front of the National School of Statistics and Economic Administration (Ensae), a gigantic building with a somewhat futuristic look in Palaiseau, a bright yellow banner is placed on the ground. Stop ERPneither in Penly nor elsewhere »can we read above in black letters. We are not allowed to enter the school with it, so I leave it there », says with irony Alain Corréa, an anti-nuclear activist who came especially from Rouen. Not far from him, Janni, from the Collective Against Atomic Order (CCOA), distributes leaflets while two Greenpeace activists also unfurl an anti-ERP. We are Tuesday, November 22 and takes place at Ensae the third meeting organized by the National Commission for Public Debate (CNDP) around the project to build six nuclear reactors of the EPR2including two in Penly (Seine-Maritime).

After two first sessions October 27 and November 8 last, this time we discuss: What is theEPR2and can we do nuclear differently ? » A project which costs an arm and which will in no way solve the energy and climate crisis », summarizes Alain Corréa. He has no illusions about the outcome of this public debate, which began after the forced passage » of a nuclear acceleration bill. It’s not a debate, it’s group therapy. The government will do what it wants, it doesn’t care. All these meetings are to anesthetize everyone. »

It’s not a debate, it’s group therapy. »

In any case, there are people inside the amphitheater which hosts the event – ​​broadcast live on Youtube. While many engineering students made the trip, members of associations, employees and trade unions in the energy sector also came to listen to the day’s speakers. On the stage, there is for example Gabriel Oblin, project director EPR2 at the house of EDF, which is the owner of this program. According to him, these third-generation pressurized water reactors, evolving compared to ERPwhile retaining their strengths »are part of the solution » to achieve the decarbonization of the French energy system by 2050. A pair of reactors EPR2 produces the electricity consumption of a region like Normandy, or half of the consumption of Île-de-France »he assures, taking up the elements indicated in a summary of the project management file distributed at the entrance.

This document further states that this project at Penly has been designed to minimize its environmental footprint and to integrate the effects of climate change ». This was not the opinion of several members of the National Council for Ecological Transition a few weeks ago. We also read that the project took into account the feedback » of building sitesERP around the world, and in particular the construction site of theERP of Flamanville. This last accumulates the hiccups and took a colossal delay : work started in 2007 and it has still not been delivered.

The third meeting of the public debate on nuclear power took place at the National School of Statistics and Economic Administration, in Essonne. © Amélie Quentel / Reporterre

Beyond the speeches of the speakers, the questions of the public are pointed. A student points out that specific criticisms emerge from the debates, without a clear and factual answer being given to the people attending. Another questions the safety of the mining of the fuel necessary for the operation of these EPR2given that the uranium mined in France is essentially imported. Enough to undermine the idea that the revival of nuclear power could ensure France’s energy independence. In this regard, Michel Badré, president of the special commission in charge of organizing the public debate, would like to make an announcement: During previous sessions, it was pointed out to us that the issue of nuclear waste and cycle [provenance de l’uranium, etc.] was not sufficiently highlighted in our program. We heard this criticism, which appeared to us to be entirely justified. » A special video session devoted to these issues will therefore be organized by the CNDP January 19.

This program ofEPR2 is “ above all an industrial and political project »

Another subject addressed during this debate: nuclear alternatives to EPR2. These are presented by Valérie Faudon, General Delegate of the French Nuclear Energy Company (SFEN). There are the Small modular reactors » (SMRsmall modular reactors) ; the program large fairing »i.e. the extension of reactors already in service ; and the Advanced modular reactors » (AMR). At his side on the platform, there is Antoine Ménager, director of public debate EPR2 for EDF. I’m happy because I see lots of students here. You will have understood that this project ofEPR2 is a project for the future »he says.

We especially witnessed a big page of advertising »

At the end of the debate, Alain Corréa from Stop ERPneither in Penly nor elsewhere sees things differently: This evening, we especially witnessed a big page of advertising. » Not far from him, Guillaume Blavet, from the same collective, debates ardently with students. For him, this program ofEPR2, behind the fine speeches on the climate emergency and the energy crisis »is above all an industrial and political project ».

The next meeting will take place on 1er December, in Caen (Normandy). His theme: What happened in Flamanville and what lessons have we learned from it? ? » Parliamentarians will take up the conclusions of this public debate as part of the vote on the energy-climate programming law in 2023.

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Public debate on EPR2s: anti-nuclear groups stand up