December 8, 2022

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Will the nuclear power plant in Wiesenheim be reconstructed?

When French President Emmanuel Macron in November He said From wanting to build new nuclear power plants, as expected in his country Investment plan to revive the economyThe President of Alsace, Frederic Perry, requested that the city of Wiesenheim be considered as the host. With a population of about three thousand, Fessenheim lies on the border with Germany and when it comes to nuclear power it is not a place like anywhere else: up to a year and a half ago it housed the oldest nuclear power plant still operating in France, which for decades It is widely disputed by German neighbors. Even today he is considered one of the symbols of the profound differences in views between France and Germany on the use of nuclear energy.

Construction of two pressurized water reactors from The power plant in Fessenheim It began in 1970. Opened seven years later, the factory became a source of pride and a primary activity for the residents of the area: it employed more than two thousand people, and the taxes paid by the factory allowed to finance schools, sports activities and community infrastructure.

At the same time, when the reactors were running, broadcast Radio Wert Wiessenheim, the first pirate radio from Alsace, born to protest the Central.

Since 1986, after the Chernobyl disasterWiesenheim has also been at the center of protests by anti-nuclear activists in Brisach, the German city across the border, which lies along the Rhine. Over the years, residents of Presach have reported alleged dangers related to various malfunctions of the power plant, arguing that in its construction the potential risks associated with the seismic activity of the area were not taken into account. Now, after more than 40 years in the business, it’s just that in progress shutdown, i.e. the shutdown process, which is expected to end in 2041.

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At the time of the terminal’s final closing in June 2020, activists and residents of Preisach celebrated. For the inhabitants of the French town Instead it was a very cruel blow: Perry spoke of it as a “financial”, “social” and “economic” scandal, and in the following months the population continued nag The “financial impasse” caused by the closure.

The situation has not changed much today. The mayor of Presach, Oliver Ryan, said he considered the idea of ​​building a new nuclear power plant in Wiesenheim “ridiculous”, in light of possible cooperation between France and Germany on joint renewable energy projects. According to Ren, Macron may have been announced to grab attention before the upcoming announcements Presidential electionsBut like all the other candidates said they would support the use of nuclear energy, if they did not intend to expand it.

An anti-nuclear demonstration on a bridge over the Rhine on June 29, 2020, marking the closure of the nearby Fessenheim nuclear power plant (Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)

France is one of the main countries in the European Union that stands for to push So that nuclear energy is included in the list of economic activities that are sustainable for the environment and therefore worthy of investment. Germany, that persisted nonetheless Help yourself As a traditional source of energy, coal – the most polluting fossil fuel – is shutting down its nuclear plants and favoring investments to produce energy from renewable sources.

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Differences over the future of nuclear energy between France and Germany are the focus of a broader debate, also because this week the European Commission should have decided whether to include nuclear fission among the energy sources worth investing in because they are environmentally sustainable. decision however postponed In January, due to strong disagreements between member states, starting with the two largest, France and Germany.

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In any case, it is not certain that Wiesenheim can really host a new nuclear power plant precisely because of the seismic risks in the area, which were downplayed in the 1970s. We must add to this the emphatic opposition from neighbors: Germany’s new Minister of Economy and Climate, Green Robert Habeck, is one of the politicians who signed a letter to celebrate the closure of the old factory.