By Kelly Lundeen
France currently has taken a whopping 32 of its 56 nuclear power reactors off line. EDF, France’s largely state-owned nuclear reactor agency, temporarily shut down 15 reactors after cracks were discovered in emergency cooling circuits a year ago. The company had to halt production in others to allow for upgrades and as a result of the overheated climate. Rising temperatures have rendered France’s river water too warm to cool its reactors and waste fuel. The shutdowns are consequential in a country that boasts the world’s largest percentage of nuclear power production compared to other electricity sources. The cooling circuit cracks are reported to have been caused by stress corrosion and faulty welded seals: severely dangerous flaws that could lead to a loss-of-coolant and meltdowns. As reactors are currently being inspected and repaired, fixes are moving slowly. Replacement components need to be readjusted regularly, EDF said to Reuters. Many of the reactors are approaching the end of their 40-year licenses, but EDF is considering 10-year license extensions. Due to the location of the problems, workers carrying out the hazardous duty are exposed to higher doses of ionizing radiation. Consequently, government contractors have arbitrarily raised the allowable maximum dose limit, relaxing rules they said were overly protective in any case. France hopes to have all the reactors back on line by February 2023.
— Reuters, Sept. 16; The Guardian, Aug. 3; New York Times, June 18; Express.co.uk, June 15, 2022