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The EPR, EDF’s nightmare

The European pressurized reactor was to be the flagship of the French nuclear industry. For the electrician, it is now his survival and that of a whole sector that is at stake, while the group is heavily indebted and its income is dwindling.

The installation of the EPR dome Flamanville (Manche), July 16, 2013.

“74 billion of debt … and with the nuclear, it is not finished! At the headquarters of EDF, avenue de Wagram, in Paris, the gigantic banner of Greenpeace shows the color: we see the CEO of EDF, Jean-Bernard Lévy, making two fingers of honor to passersby, under the mention “Thank you Jean-Bernard”. This action of December 2016 marks a new stage in the argument of opponents of nuclear: it is not only to denounce the risk of accidents, but also the financial risk that weigh on EDF.

NGOs are no longer alone in this field. In June, the then minister responsible for EDF Nicolas Hulot, took the argument. “One of the reasons why EDF finds itself in trouble is that the nuclear industry, sorry to say, leads us into a drift. “In a clear allusion to expensive Flamanville (Manche), he said:” One sees well as economically, there is a sort of golden rule that is taking hold in this sector, it is that in reality, we never keep our promises. The minister is picking up a criticism that is becoming more and more common: not only has nuclear become too expensive, but it would also be a major strategic mistake for EDF.

A single EPR connected to the network in the world

Yet the EPR reactor is at the heart of the group’s strategy. It is presented as the solution to the problem of climate change and as the promise of global leadership in a technology that is believed by more than ever the world’s largest nuclear operator, which employs more than 150,000 people. Is the EPR sinking EDF or is it its lifeline?

For now, the Way of the Cross continues. In July, the Flamanville shipyard experienced new difficulties: after the announcement of weld problems, EDF management had to resolve to announce yet another delay of …

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