For Immediate Release

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Linda Pentz Gunter, 301.455.5655; Kumar Sundaram, 805.617.9747

Groups Condemn French-India Nuclear Deal To Be Signed On Fukushima Anniversary

TAKOMA PARK, MD - French president, Emmanuel Macron, should not be imposing the untested, expensive and technically troubled French EPR reactor on India, say two international groups opposed to nuclear power in India and across the world.

Macron will visit India on March 11, 2018, seven years to the day since the start of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster in Japan, the second worst nuclear catastrophe after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear reactor explosion in Ukraine. France and India are expected to sign a framework agreement during the visit that would fast track a six-reactor EPR project at Jaitapur on India’s west coast.

“The French have no right to inflict the risks and environmental devastation of nuclear power on unwilling communities in India,” said Kumar Sundaram, director of DiaNuke. “The French nuclear sector is preying upon India’s apparent eagerness to buy nuclear plants in order to restore their global reputation, fatally damaged by the failures of their EPR nuclear projects at home and in Finland.” 

Beyond Nuclear (US) and DiaNuke (India) are calling for foreign corporations not to proceed with nuclear power projects in India. In addition to the French Jaitapur site, a subsidiary of the Russian nuclear company, Rosatom, has a six reactor nuclear project in Kudankulam where two of its VVER-1000 reactors are already operational. The bankrupt US company, Westinghouse, hopes to build six AP1000 reactors in the village of Kovvada in Andhra Pradesh.

There have been vigorous protests at all the foreign-owned nuclear sites from farmers, fishermen and villagers, whose lives and livelihoods, along with scarce water supplies, are threatened. As many as 5,000 people are expected to protest on the eve of Macron’s visit. The Jaitapur EPR project would be the biggest nuclear power plant site in the world if built, producing 9,900 MW of electricity.

“It's ironic that while Macron is selling nuclear power to India where villagers have been shot protesting it, his government is at the same time tear-gasing nuclear opponents at home," said Linda Pentz Gunter, international specialist at Beyond Nuclear. “This shows yet again why nuclear energy and democracy are fundamentally incompatible."

Macron will also visit the New Delhi Solar Summit during his stopover in India. "India is ideally suited to the distributed electricity generation provided by solar and wind energy, given its vast geography and the fact that almost 70% of its population lives in rural areas,” Pentz Gunter continued. "But it is clear that nuclear energy is Macron's priority agenda."

The Areva-designed and EDF constructed EPR was supposed to become the French nuclear flagship. Instead, the EPR is mired in controversy. The French Flamanville EPR, as well as one in Olkiluoto, Finland, are massively over budget, years behind schedule, and have been plagued by technical mistakes and charges of fraud and cover-ups.

Only last week, EDF admitted to substandard weldings at the Flamanville plant which also has a controversial and flawed reactor vessel lid manufactured by the Areva-owned French forge at Le Creusot which was found to have supplied defective parts and falsified quality control documents, eroding trust internationally in the EPR.

Even in China, where safety controls are given less scrutiny than in Europe, further delays were just announced at the Taishan EPR site, due to cracks found in a reactor component. It marked the third delay in two years. These troubles have left Areva and EDF, both state-owned companies, fundamentally bankrupt. 

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Beyond Nuclear aims to educate and activate the public about the connections between nuclear power and nuclear weapons and the need to abandon both to safeguard our future. Beyond Nuclear advocates for an energy future that is sustainable, benign and democratic.

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