Skip to content

French nuke developer runs afoul of U.S. law


French Nuclear Developer Runs Afoul of U.S. Federal Law, Undermines U.S. Nonproliferation Goals

Baltimore-based Constellation Energy Group has walked away from nuclear power, but its former nuclear partner, Electricite de France (EDF) Group, based in France, is refusing to abandon the project intended to open up the U.S. market to risky French reactors.

On Tuesday, Constellation and EDF finalized a deal to give the French-controlled corporation full ownership of the proposed third nuclear reactor at Calvert Cliffs, Md., by selling Constellation’s 50 percent stake in the Unistar nuclear-development company.

The agreement appears to resuscitate EDF’s nuclear ambitions in the U.S. after the project was jeopardized by Constellation’s withdrawal from negotiations with the U.S. Department of Energy for a federally backed loan guarantee. A loan guarantee has been the essential vehicle for financing the proposed $10 billion reactor.

However, with EDF as the sole entity, the loan guarantee is no longer the foremost factor that will determine whether a third reactor is built in Maryland. EDF faces several other obstacles that should keep this project from moving forward, including a federal law that prohibits a foreign entity from “ownership, control or domination” of a U.S. nuclear project.

Public Citizen and its partners – the Nuclear Information Resource Service and Beyond Nuclear – are challenging the application for the proposed third reactor in front of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Even before Constellation sold its stake in Unistar, the group filed a complaint with the NRC, raising the issue of overt foreign influence in the Maryland project.

Other regulatory issues also plague the project. The EPR, the reactor design at the center of the project, is designed by another French-controlled entity, AREVA. Myriad issues with the EPR design have resulted in delays and cost overruns for reactor development in Finland, whose costs have now risen about 80 percent and whose four-year construction schedule is now four years behind schedule, and in France, whose project is two years behind schedule and about 30 percent over budget. And U.S. regulatory bodies have yet to certify the design, citing deficiencies with its digital instrumentation and control systems.

If these problems weren’t enough, collaborating with the French nuclear industry also undermines U.S. nonproliferation goals. EDF is the largest nuclear developer in the world. It offers civilian nuclear assistance to both Saudi Arabia and Jordan, despite both countries’ refusal to engage in U.S. negotiations to keep the countries from making nuclear fuel. Meanwhile, EDF is seeking U.S. taxpayer-funded loan guarantees to pay for its U.S.-based projects. The federal government should not be supporting a foreign entity that is unwilling to adhere to our national security objectives.

In addition to the unique issues associated with the proposal for a third reactor in Maryland, EDF also faces the same problem that has long plagued all nuclear power projects: nuclear power is financially unviable. Maryland has faster, cheaper and more reliable ways to generate power without relying on foreign corporations that seek to hawk a dirty, expensive and outdated technology in the U.S.

Allison Fisher is the  Outreach Director for  Public Citizen’s Energy Program

5 Comments leave one →
  1. J. McElhinney permalink
    11/04/2010 12:36 pm

    Since there is great opposition in the US to practical approaches to supplying renewable energy, desperately needed in the next two or three decades, taking nuclear power plant options off the table by describing them as “risky” is non productive. France has had no problems with its nuclear power plants and is weaning itself off fossil fuels. This puts France in a great economic situation. The odds are so stacked against rational economic objectives in the US, that economic decline seems inevitable. There does not appear to be the political will among the US population to achieve energy independence or to oppose fossil fuel industry purchase of our government. Between the military-industrial complex which Eisenhower warned about, and the influence of fossil fuel interests, our system of checks and balances has become inoperative. Our economy in “free fall” will further escalate public fear of declining standard of living, leading the voting public to choose anyone but an incumbant. This of course makes the economic situation worse, as the newly elected have no strategies to stop economic decline. The further the decline, the less the political will to invest in renewables, pay for debt and infrastructure. The decline sprirals.

  2. Leuren Moret permalink
    11/07/2010 2:38 pm

    Considering the full cycle cost of nuclear power – from mining/milling/enriching uranium to decommissioning old plants – exposes that nuclear power is the most costly form of energy in the world in terms of (1) the catastrophic impact on public health, (2) higher emissions of greenhouse gases than any other form of energy, (3) nuclear power is only viable because governments MUST subsidize it or corporations would operate at tremendous losses, (4) the hidden agenda behind uranium mining and nuclear power is who is really benefiting – the Queen of England who owns mineral rights to the British Isles, 27 countries, and many islands and territories where most of the worlds uranium sources are, AND the Rothschilds, City of London bankers, own 80% of uranium stocks.

    (1) Catastrophic impact on public health: Because of 75% reliance on nuclear power in France and its reprocessing plants, France now has the highest cancer rate in the world with rare cancers in 20% of the population from radioactive exposure to 1300 isotopes released from the stacks of operating nuclear power plants. I have collected over 6000 baby teeth with Dr. Ernest Sternglass and Dr. Janette Sherman, from children living within 100 miles of nuclear power plants. We found that the Strontium-90 levels are higher in those baby teeth than levels during open air testing of nuclear weapons. Two thirds of all breast cancer deaths in the US occur within 100 miles of nuclear reactors at nuclear power plants and nuclear weapons labs. US National Policy is to ship the most radioactive contaminated milk into inner city black communities where it is sold in “Mom and Pop” stores to the poor and black communities as a deliberate hidden US genocide.

    (2) Higher emissions of greenhouse gases than any other form of energy: nuclear power can only exist because of govt protection, deception, and hefty subsidies. The deception by governments has ignored the total greenhouse gas emissions by compartmentalizing nuclear power and minimizing the real risks. Any engineer can sit down and pencil out the full cycle cost and the full cycle emissions, because that’s where I got the information – from an engineer. The DOE recognizes at their annual air monitoring conferences that over 1300 extremely dangerous radioactive isotopes are released from the cooling towers daily from nuclear power plants in solid, liquid and gaseous phases. The synergistic effects of chemical pollution and nuclear materials increases the damage of nuclear power plant emissions by at least 10 times. These issues are never mentioned in considering the real costs of nuclear power.

    (3) Not a single bank in the United States is willing to loan money for construction of a new nuclear power plant, forcing the US Govt. to practice “Government extortion” by forcing communities to “pay in advance” for twenty years through additional taxes before a nuclear power plant is built – over the strong objections of the citizens.

    (4) The hidden agenda behind uranium mining and nuclear power: Because she is a Sovereign ruler, Queen Elizabeth has legal claim on 6,698,146,531 acres in the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and 28 other countries and territories, worth $33,490,732,655,000. That gives her ownership of the largest production of uranium in the world. The Rothschilds manage uranium production and prices, and control the Queen’s uranium interests through an absolutely disgustingly corrupt corporation called LONHRO. Look it up. The Rothschilds own 80% of uranium stocks, and control the global nuclear power industry through French companies.

    Not a single new nuclear power plant has been built in the US (nor should have been) since the early 1970’s when objecting US citizens forced cancellation of nuclear power contracts and successfully blocked all future projects to this day.

    Nuclear power is a depopulation agenda by the City of London and Wall Street bankers and those vested interests and power elite behind the bankers, most of all Queen Elizabeth.

    Leuren Moret
    International Radiation Specialist/Expert Witness
    Livermore Nuclear Weapons Lab Whistleblower
    Partner in the Radiation and Public Health Project

  3. Cuyler Brooks permalink
    11/07/2010 3:02 pm

    No explanation of how the French reactor is “risky” – just the “not invented here” syndrome? I thought the French “pebble-bed” design was much safer than conventional reactors.

  4. Dr. Hal Marchand permalink
    11/07/2010 3:15 pm

    Public Citizen provides good resource information and advocacy but this time it blundered. French nuclear energy has been proven to be some of the safest. No hard evidence has indicated otherwise. Stop doing the oil and coal lobbies job.

  5. Leuren Moret permalink
    11/07/2010 3:32 pm

    As a Staff Scientist and Geoscientist at the Livermore Nuclear Weapons Lab, I worked on the Yucca Mountain (YMP) and Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP). I also toured proposed waste disposal sites in Japan and visited the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant on April 1, 2005, the day it opened. The Yucca Mountain Project is the most important Public Works Project the US government has ever undertaken. Billions of dollars of ratepayer money was wasted on the biggest example of science fraud in US science. After nearly $4 billion was spent on the project over a 20+ year period, not even a container that would hold the waste had been produced.

    I was working at Livermore Lab (LLNL) when what was left of the containers holding low level waste were brought back from trial storage underground at WIPP in New Mexico, and later from YMP in Nevada. In less than 5 years, bacteria had eaten the metal containers made from a special alloy (at very high cost), leaving the radioactive waste uncontained – like bacteria eating a beer can and leaving the beer. The YMP management guaranteed that they could safely store the nuclear waste for 10,000 years, yet the trial showed that not even 5 years was possible with what they had produced after extensive research as a ‘waste package’.

    Not even the physical parameters of the underground repository met any reasonable safety standards. In July 2004, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the EPA’s 10,000-year compliance period for isolation of radioactive waste was not consistent with National Academy of Sciences (NAS) recommendations and was too short.The NAS report had recommended standards be set for the time of peak risk, which might approach a period of one million years. Not only that, but Yucca Mountain is in one of the most active volcanic regions in the US, with dozens of earthquakes every month, and a hotspring and hot groundwater under the repository. The repository and packaging of the waste had to be completely dry for the period of storage. At a Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board (NWTRB) meeting, an advisory committee independently advising the President and Congress on YMP, asked a scientist during his presentation why tarps were covering all of the instrumentation in a slide of the underground storage facilities. The scientist responded that groundwater was pouring into the room from the ground surface, and explained it was hundreds of gallons an hour. That meeting was followed by a terse letter from the NWTRB to the President and Congress recommending canceling the YMP.

    It was a wise recommendation and was followed by the wise decision to shut down the YMP.

    Leuren Moret
    International Radiation Specialist/Expert Witness
    Livermore Nuclear Weapons Lab Whistleblower
    Partner in the Radiation and Public Health Project

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: