French nuclear choice poisoned lands and people
The choice by France to prioritize nuclear power over all other energy sources has cost the French people in numerous ways, most recently fiscally with half the nuclear fleet shut down for technical or maintenance reasons. The nuclear power monopoly means the French renewable sector has been stifled and is not there now to replace the stricken nuclear plants. Instead, France imports fossil fuels to fill the gap.
However the nuclear choice — which at one time involved more than 250 active uranium mines in France — has also left a toxic legacy across the country. There are numerous hot spots as well as examples of radioactive mine tailings being used in buildings, roads and parking lots.
In a new article in Culturico, Beyond Nuclear’s Linda Pentz Gunter, describes how widespread and harmful the environmental contamination in France has become, with large swaths of the country de facto nuclear waste dumps. In all, there are an estimated 200-300 million tonnes of radioactive tailings dumped across France. And, of course, the decision to reprocess irradiated reactor fuel has led to radioactive contamination not only in France but across Europe, as the radioactive discharges are transported in the air and sea. (Headline photo: Emmett Anderson/Creative Commons)
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