Greenpeace tries to delay French reactor work

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

PARIS (Reuters) - Greenpeace France activists on Wednesday blocked for the second day the entrances of three of the four quarries used by EDF to build its new-generation nuclear reactor, the environmentalist group said.

But French power group EDF said the action was not preventing building of the 1,600-megawatts reactor.

"The action is not hindering the works," an EDF spokeswoman said, without giving more details.

Work at the building site of Flamanville were partly halted at the end of May following an order from France's nuclear safety authority (ASN) due to several irregularities, but EDF was given the go-ahead to resume work last week.

"We are asking the ASN to cancel its decision and we are issuing a warning on the choice of nuclear," said a Greenpeace France spokeswoman.

Around 20 Greenpeace activists chained themselves early on Tuesday to the entrances of three out of four quarries, which are used by EDF to make concrete.

"We have no plan to stop the action, we will carry on as long as it's necessary," Greenpeace said.

The nuclear safety body said in a statement last week that EDF had provided guarantees that it would improve the overseeing of quality of construction.

"But nothing has been resolved, we are scared to see the problems recur," the Greenpeace spokeswoman added.

ASN's order issued on May 21 concerned the pouring of concrete at the building site of the 1,650-megawatt new generation reactor that EDF started to construct in December 2007.

The ASN said the irregularities it had observed on the building site did not pose a threat to the quality of the construction but showed a lack of rigor in the execution of the works.

Work at Flamanville in northwest France is expected to last for another four and a half years with the 3.6 billion euros plant scheduled to start production in 2012.

France is Europe's top producer of nuclear power with 80 percent of its electricity nuclear-generated. The Flamanville nuclear reactor will be EDF's 59th.

EDF plans to add around 6,000 megawatts of power capacity in France by 2012, split between 1,650 MW of nuclear power and 4,000 MW in thermal power.

Posted in |