Thousands demonstrate against new nuclear reactor

19th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

RENNES, France, March 17, 2007 (AFP) - Tens of thousands of people demonstrated in five French cities on Saturday against plans to build a so-called "third-generation" nuclear reactor in Normandy.

RENNES, France, March 17, 2007 (AFP) - Tens of thousands of people demonstrated in five French cities on Saturday against plans to build a so-called "third-generation" nuclear reactor in Normandy.

Some 40,000 people demonstrated in Rennes in Britanny, 2,000 in Lille in the north, 2,000 in the eastern city of Strasbourg, 2,000 in Lyon in the centre and thousands more in Toulouse in the south west, police and organisers said.

"There is a massive rejection by the population of the new nuclear reactor," said Stephane Lhomme, the national spokesman for the "Sortir" anti-nuclear network, who said 60,000 people had turned out across the country.

"Obviously it is a warning to candidates in the presidential election. Those who do not speak out against the EPR will lose thousands of votes," he said, as demonstrators marched to calls of "no no no to the EPR".

France's nuclear safety commission gave a green light earlier this month for the construction of the 3.3-billion euro (4.3-billion dollar) European Pressurized Water Reactor.

Construction of the EPR, located near the town of Flamanville in Normandy near the English Channel, is slated to begin by the end of the year.

France derives around three-quarters of its electricity from nuclear power, the highest ratio of any country in the world, and many of its reactors are approaching obsolescence.

The EPR design was developed in the 1990s by Germany's Siemens and France's Framatome-ANP, which is part of the state-owned nuclear energy group Areva.

It reportedly uses 17 percent less fuel than the types of reactor currently operating in France, and is designed to generate power for 60 years.

The 58 reactors currently in service -- built under a vast programme launched 30 years ago during the first oil crisis -- will begin to age out of operation beginning in 2015.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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