The company responsible for building France's first nuclear power station in 21 years has just been forced to shot down five older reactors over safety concerns. These five power plants are subject to emergency testing to ascertain their level of safety.
The newest nuclear power plant costs 18 billion pounds and is one of two it was contracted to build by France. With this recent shutdown of five more reactors, the total number of reactors being examined is 12. Safety officials are seeking signs of weakness in the reactors pressure vessels. The pressure vessels are a key component to housing the reactor.
Any rupture could mean a series of disasters much like the famous event at Fukushima Daiichi in Japan. When the reactors at Fukushima were submerged in water due to the tsunami, massive amounts of radiation was leaked into the surrounding area making a dead zone that will remain untouchable for decades to come. France is looking to foresee any future disasters and in hopes of avoiding them and their heightened level of caution is reassuring.
The lack of nuclear power plants running at their full capacity has some alarmed that there might not be enough French electricity the winter season demands. This lack of functioning plants coupled with the safety concerns have not fared well on EDF. 21 of EDF's 58 total reactors are shut down for maintenance. The company is now in debt 37 billion pounds and a spokesman for EDF said they are loosing 1 million pounds a day per reactor that is offline. This is not currently a sustainable business model for nuclear power companies like EDF and they are likely to be in need of a bailout by the French government.
France is taking the better safe than sorry approach and this is how nuclear power should be handled. There is a lot on the line to make the power that generates your computer or charges your phone. Certainly the people of France should rest assured that power will be available but not at the expense of safety.
The spokesman for EDF also stated the reactors currently shut down should be back to operation by the end of the year.