French President Voices Support for Aging Nuclear Plant, Sets Contrast With Election Opponent

Reinforcing his support for the future of nuclear power, which has become a key issue in the May elections, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Thursday that he would not shut down the 34- and 35-year-old reactors at the Fessenheim nuclear plant.

Sarkozy and his opponent, Francois Hollande, disagree on the fate of Fessenheim and aging plants like it. Twenty two French reactors will reach the end of their 40-year design lives over the next decade. Sarkozy supports modifications to extend their use, while Hollande supports bringing nuclear’s share of French power generation down to 50 percent by 2025.

Popular support for nuclear power declined in France following the Fukushima Daiichi accidents in Japan but remains strong. About three fourths of the country’s power comes from EDF’s 58 reactors. Last year Hollande’s Socialist Party and the Green Party agreed on a platform that would decommission 24 reactors by 2025.

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