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(en) France, OCL CA #338 - Civil and military nuclear power, love is in the tank! (ca, de, fr, it, pt, tr)[machine translation]

Date Wed, 17 Apr 2024 09:01:14 +0300

We would have liked to talk to you about nature, hunters and elections but we could not resist the call of this heavy industry that the whole world envies us: nuclear power. ---- CA of March 2023 addressed the question of nuclear power in France with, among other things, the merger project of the ASN (Nuclear Safety Authority, 500 employees under public law) and the IRSN (Institute of Radioprotection and Safety Nuclear, 1700 employees under private law) project wanted by Macron. He imposed this idea during a nuclear policy council at the Élysée, held behind closed doors, in February 2023.
EDF, the majority and all the right-wingers had applauded because launching the construction of the EPR2, SMRs (Small Modular Reactor, these disruptive projects carried out by long-toothed start-ups) and extending the activity of our (very) old nuclear power plants were exciting political, energy and economic and patriotic priorities.
The bill was adopted on February 13 by the Senate despite opposition from the IRSN staff union which denounces a law which "will permanently destabilize the nuclear risk governance system". The merger should be effective on January 1, 2025. The new organization would take the name of the Independent Authority for Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection (AISNR).
Why so much haste? This is because with the nuclear acceleration law, time is running out. When two organizations with different activities, projects, cultures and statuses are merged, a huge mess occurs which causes the new organization to regress instead of improving it. It is a classic of organizational sociology.
To reduce this "transitional period, by nature delicate[which]cannot be concomitant with the operational phase of the new expected programs..." it was necessary for everything to be completed as quickly as possible, which "opens a window for possible reorganization." "relatively narrow opportunity probably by the end of 2024."[1]
If we translate the parliamentary jargon, for everything to go as smoothly as possible for the State-EDF, everything must be locked before the end of the year so that projects can get underway. A "fluidized" framework with a single contact, ASN++, simplified procedures and shortened deadlines without internal control or possible dispute, that is the project. It will still be necessary to explain how EDF and its service providers will be able to have a single contact when some of the employees come under the control of the CEA and the Ministry of the Armed Forces...[2]
As EDF had already anticipated the manufacture of vital parts for the Penly EPR2 before the end of the public debate (October 2022-February 2023), before the vote on the nuclear recovery law and without informing the ASN, the operation had to be secured. One shot of ASAP and the Titanic of nuclear safety sails, everything is extremely simple in Nucleocracy.
There are a few lumps in the soup. Thus, more than half of the staff of the IRSN service responsible for "preventing malicious acts and terrorism in civil nuclear power.» resigned from their post after learning that the reform would put them directly "at the disposal of the Ministry of the Armed Forces"[3].
It is certain that with generals and defense secrecy, information and protection of populations will be in good hands, especially since future IRSN opinions will no longer be published in real time but over several weeks, months, years (?) after their realization...
We also see that a khaki and militaristic epidemic is spreading to so-called civilian nuclear power.
In Cadarache (no military activities), a general replaces the civil engineer at its head. Same in Saclay. In 2021, "EDF entrusted... Admiral Jean Casabianca with the general inspection of the safety of its nuclear sites.»[4]Same at Ourano (formerly Areva). The "interministerial delegation for the renewal of nuclear power (ie the EPR2)" "is led by the five-star armaments engineer Joël Barre" and the supervisor of the new EPR construction sites is Hervé Guillou, ex-boss of Naval Group, the national company which builds ships for the National Navy.
And, during the nuclear policy council of February 3, 2024, decisions were taken on the basis of a report written by a "civilian who has long headed the military applications department of the CEA.», a reliable guy, that is.
The picture would not be perfect if we forgot that the current Minister of the Economy has just taken over all energy policy, including nuclear, into his portfolio. Gone is the ministry of "energy transition". Hello to nuclear power piloted by the Treasury administration, whose discreet humanism learned at the ENA is well known.
These two elements clearly show the state's desire to put all internal disputes under wraps (while waiting to crush external ones?) and to control the entire nuclear sector without even pretending to play the democratic fiction card.
At the start of the 21st century we are witnessing the (desperate?) comeback of the EDF-State and the CEA-State of the 1950s-1990s, to try to once again impose a program in opacity. gigantic but totally rickety nuclear power plant (financially, economically, technically and energetically) to the pigs of citizens. Citizens who we try to frighten, make insecure, repress and permanently paralyze in the face of what is taking place.
This authoritarian drift led by elitist micro-social circles marked by a techno-bureaucratic inter-personality clearly shows that they are the State! And they are our worst enemies...

NuScale Power is naked!
This is the flagship American company in SMRs (Small Modular Reactors). This conquering start-up boasts of its formidable achievements which have not gone beyond the stage of theoretical studies. The only two SMRs currently operating are demonstrators far away, one in Russia, the other in China. It occupies, with rather effective storytelling, the media and financial space of the SMR business stuffed with public funds ($600 million since 2014 and 1.5 billion for its Utah project just for NuScale).
Unfortunately in its frantic race in search of capital it has pushed its pawns "...to the limits of lies to monopolize financing (the company is the subject of an investigation after a short sale report alleged that it had sold 24 reactors to a 'fake client' (a cryptocurrency company)[5]quite incapable of financing them".
Furthermore, in order to conceal the real operating costs of its hypothetical SMR, NuScale omitted from its projects, the "...tight containment structures and reliable...backup safety systems.[the project]also had only one control room for 12 reactor units[each producing 60 megawatts of electricity]." The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) required a control room for 2 reactors. It also attempted to "... circumvent critical safety regulations, including requirements for off-site emergency response plans to protect neighboring communities.»
A misfortune that never comes alone, its action fell by more than 33% at the start of 2024, after it was forced to abandon its flagship project, that of the Utah Association of Municipal Power Systems "from 3.6 billion dollars for 720 megawatts in 2020 to 9.3 billion dollars for 462 MW in 2022." which caused the departure of many Utah municipalities attracted by this smoky low-cost "decarbonized" energy, but spent from £58 to £89 per kWh in a year.[6]

French-style SMR
The SMR seems to be in France the Holy Grail of nucleocrats, private or state. A billion EUR has been allocated to research on these as part of the France 2030 plan. This is salivating and several projects which have the common characteristic of their embryonic stage (despite the chatter which surrounds their "advances") are being launched. the stuffing.
The least bad is NuWard. Bringing together TechnicAtome, the CEA, Naval Group and EDF. The project is based on "two 170 MW units coupled and controlled by a single control room" and is based "on feedback from the Barracuda nuclear attack submarine propulsion project". These are therefore classic light water reactors. An additional EUR170 million was allocated to it for research as part of the 2020 recovery plan.
The other projects, "known as 4th generation, characterized by alternative coolants (liquid metal, gas, molten salts)"[7]are driven by start-ups that hope to become capitalist "unicorns"[8].
Hexana, Stellaria (both from the CEA), Jimmy Energy, Naarea, Transmutex, Renaissance Fusion, but also Newcleo, Calogena, Otrera Nuclear Energy, Blue Capsule claim to sell super-innovative, fast and efficient products.
In reality it is very, very oldschool because the technologies are extremely reminiscent of the Phénix breeder reactors (shut down), Super Phenix (abandoned following various accidents) and Astrid (program stopped by Macron).
And a slight doubt haunts us when we learn that, like Super Phénix, they will reduce the quantities of radioactive waste by consuming plutonium.
There is already a first small problem. On paper, according to clever calculations "it is argued that the French project would allow us to benefit from electricity priced at 120 euros/kWh, much too expensive therefore..."
To this little nothing is added everything else, like this is clearly shown by Bernard Laponche who analyzes and criticizes the recent comments of the director of the ASN in January 2024[9]
SMRs must be subject to the same rules as conventional reactors for "safety, security and non-proliferation issues ..." even if certain innovative SMRs "present potentially promising intrinsic safety characteristics".
Which ones? So-called "passive" security. However, "Talking about passive safety can be reassuring for the public, but from a technological or probability point of view, there is no advantage in itself to passive safety compared to active safety," explains Renaud. Crassous, the president of Nuward..."[10]If they say so...
"The use of SMR in France would not be of much interest for electricity production given the importance of the current fleet of EDF power plants and the announced projects.» For EDF the hope is exports with all the risks of global nuclear proliferation AND the domestic market because "SMRs could be very useful for the production of heat or steam for process industries (paper industry, agri-food industry). , chemical, etc.)" Problem: "The SMR reactor would then have to be located very close to the industrial installation or even, according to ASN, inside this installation.» This would make these installations intrinsically doubly dangerous because "we cannot admit the presence of a basic nuclear installation, containing highly radioactive materials within a classic industrial installation, of the ICPE type in which a serious accident situation (AZF , Lubrizol) could damage the SMR unit and turn the accident into a disaster.»
To be profitable, the SMR sector must be industrialized, standardized and produce a lot. Hundreds of private clients are needed, scattered throughout the country. However, "ASN and IRSN pay very close attention to "external attacks" of natural or malicious origin. What happens to these concerns... on locations... whose location was chosen without any concern for nuclear safety and security?»
So-called innovative reactors pose lots of still unknown problems. What will their behavior be under normal conditions, or in the event of an accident?
There is no serious information on the real costs of this future sector, whether for design, construction or operation (they will already be more labor intensive than conventional power plants), fuels (manufacture and reprocessing), as well as dismantling and waste management.
It's simple, with the SMR we return to the golden age of French nucleocracy where all these questions had been hidden and denied.
Last worrying element: the appearance of new private players "very ambitious, who want things to go quickly", to the point of worrying the ASN. "We have before us sellers who do not always have sufficient technological maturity and who do not see the subject globally," he explained. Our interlocutors very rarely have in mind what is linked to the fuel cycle: often, they present to us projects with fuels that do not even exist, which are at an extremely high level of enrichment and could pose problems regarding proliferation. And they don't worry about waste.»(See note 10)
The ultimately very old Presidential Start-up Nation unashamedly reconnects with the main elements of the very old original criminal cretinism of the French nuclear program of the 70s. They take all the elements in rapid succession to put in place a system that is as - or even more - dangerous which will add to the dangers of the present. This is based on the irresponsibility, the greed, the arrogance of the new capitalism of start-ups who, with their well-trimmed beards, their tight-fitting pants and shirts, have only one motto: "take the sorrel and get out."

By the way
Since Saturday February 17, a major fire has ravaged the depot of Snam (New Metal Refining Company) specializing in the recycling of lithium batteries in Viviez, near Decazeville (Aveyron). 900 tons of batteries burned, exploded and released highly toxic fumes into the surrounding area.
It is likely to last a good while, despite the reassuring speeches from officials. However, since the fire a year ago at a Bolloré Logistics battery site in Grand-Couronne, these calming speeches are far from reassuring local residents.[11]

Rook and Eugene the Jeep

1 - Nice "Window of Opportunity" for the nuclear mess. JL P. Le Canard Enchaîné of 08/09/2023. This is a quote from the report of the Parliamentary Office for the Evaluation of Scientific and Technological Choices on nuclear safety.
2 - Listening to "What governance for French nuclear safety?"» in the program "The telephone rings" on Friday February 16 (France Inter) is very instructive.
3 - Desertion in the nuclear sector. Hervé Liffran. Le Canard Enchaîné of 02/07/2024
4 - The military takeover bid. Le Canard Enchaîné of 01/03/2023
5 - The Race for SMRs. homonuclearus.fr from 04/27/2021. Also read: NuScale Power ($SMR): A Fake Customer and a Major Contract in Peril Cast Doubt on NuScale's viability. Iceberg Research from 10/19/2023
6 - Coalition's nuclear SMR poster boy cancels flagship project due to soaring costs. Renew Economy from 02/17/2024. See also: "Decryption: the Nuscale SMR project in Idaho canceled", hilarious article from the SFEN, a nuclearist sect fed by EDF and Ourano.
7 - The small SMR atomic reactor is the dream of nuclear scientists. Émilie Massemin. Reporterre from 05/04/2021
8 - In disruptive-entrepreneurial newspeak, these are start-ups exceeding $1 billion in capitalization and not listed on the stock exchange. It's the financialized version of the fable of the frog who wants to be bigger than the ox.
9 - The dangerous craze for SMRs. Bernard Laponche. Global Chance. 02/15/2024
10 - Nuclear: with innovative small reactor projects, new challenges for safety. Perrine Mouterde. Le Monde from 07-02-2024
11- Fire at a battery factory: the impossible return to normal life for local residents. Report from 02/16/2024

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