Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

France is exploring new ways to dispose of radioactive materials but public opposition is as fierce as ever

There may be a price [communities] are willing to accept in order to stomach the waste and its risks, but we don’t know what that price is yet,” … “If it’s high enough, it will ultimately add to the cost of disposal.”  Local authorities have poured millions of euros of subsidies and compensation into the area to support the project

The nuclear power dilemma: where to put the lethal waste
France is exploring new ways to dispose of radioactive materials but public opposition is as fierce as ever, Ft.com Anna Gross in Chooz and Sarah White in Bure 6 FEB 22, 

”………………….Resistance is fissile  Cigeo has attracted the same kind of vocal opposition found at other potential burial sites. And, as a result Bure, a village of fewer than 100 inhabitants, has become a battleground where protesters have regularly clashed with police over the future of the site. Demonstrators have set up a “house of resistance” in Bure that has become a magnet for anti-nuclear protesters around the country. The former barn is equipped with a projection room, mattresses to welcome guests and a cosy communal kitchen.

Campaigners say the Bure site has become representative of a broader cause. “Beyond the waste, it’s nuclear production above all else that worries us,” says a 29-year-old jurist who gave his name as Antoine, one of a handful of campaigners manning the fort on a snowy February morning. “It’s a supposedly low carbon source of energy, but you’ve got to build the reactors . . . it is such a dangerous and destructive solution.” Yet the state holds that the undeniable risks of nuclear energy are outweighed by its potential benefits as a cost-effective way of cutting CO2 emissions. According to a report last year from French grid operator RTE, France’s cheapest way to reach carbon neutrality by 2050 would involve building 14 new reactors. Under the scenarios RTE presented, if France built no new nuclear reactors and relied exclusively on expanding renewables and extending the lifespan of existing nuclear, this would cost €10bn more per year than other options including new reactors, with the cost of decommissioning factored into the final bill.

But that may not factor in the costs of convincing French citizens to host such facilities in their backyards. Bure resident Anne-Marie Henn, a retiree, says the project has forced her and her artist husband Jacques to give up on their dream of creating a painting atelier in an annex to their home. “We’d like to leave, but our house isn’t worth anything any more,” she says. Ed Lyman, senior global security scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, who has spent decades researching nuclear power safety, says the science behind burying waste is robust, and the dangers of corrosion or leakage minimal. But there remain real risks for the public, he says, such as accidents happening when materials are transported to the site.

“There may be a price [communities] are willing to accept in order to stomach the waste and its risks, but we don’t know what that price is yet,” he adds. “If it’s high enough, it will ultimately add to the cost of disposal.”  Local authorities have poured millions of euros of subsidies and compensation into the area to support the project and residents. In Bure, that has translated into snazzy lampposts lining every street alongside the barns and stone houses; households have also got fibre optic internet connections and sanitation networks have been improved. “We’ve got to deal with this crap,” Henn says. “At the very least we can benefit a bit from [subsidies].”

But the concerns of many communities go way beyond immediate dangers to more existential questions: how can we ensure that not just our children and grandchildren, but people living thousands of years in the future have the knowledge and understanding to handle it responsibly? And how can we be sure that the storage containers we have developed now will stand the test of time? “What we’ll be getting here is the really dangerous core of the waste,” Henn says, adding that it was “the generations to come” that worried her.

Andra, the French state agency responsible for nuclear waste management, is considering ways to warn future generations of what lies below Bure — perhaps by inscribing microscopic information on a hard disk of sapphire, designed to withstand erosion, should the site be forgotten. “Even if we lose our collective memory, the storage site will be safe,” says spokesperson Audrey Guillemenet. If these kinds of innovations fail to impress French lawmakers and the site does not win approval, that leaves the government with a problem that goes far beyond the billions spent on construction. “Some 50 per cent of the [nuclear] waste destined to come here eventually already exists,” says Guillemenet. Forget the next generation of power plants; the decades-old materials Gannaz and his predecessors have removed from Chooz A are a problem that needs a solution. If it is not Bure, then what is it?  https://www.ft.com/content/246dad82-c107-4886-9be2-e3b3c4c4f315?segmentid=acee4131-99c2-09d3-a635-873e61754ec6

February 7, 2022 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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