The Crash of France’s Nuclear Poster Child

The Star Phoenix has boostered the nuclear industry in SK, no doubt. In fact, in 2007 it cited AREVA as one of Saskatchewan’s top 100 companies.  Funny, that, because that top company just layed off a shwack of employees. (This is SK, remember, with a population of just over a million. Definitions of shwack vary across the country!)

For those who want to know more about how AREVA’s going down the tubes, here’s an excellent essay by Harvey Wasserman:

Areva’s Money Meltdown: The Crash of France’s Nuclear Poster Child

The myth of a successful nuclear power industry in France has melted into financial chaos. With it dies the corporate-hyped poster child for a “nuclear renaissance” of new reactor construction that is drowning in red ink and radioactive waste. Areva, France’s nationally-owned corporate atomic façade, has plunged into a deep financial crisis led by a devastating shortage of cash. Electricite de France, the French national utility, has been raided by European Union officials charging that its price-fixing may be undermining competition throughout the continent. Delays and cost overruns continue to escalate at Areva’s catastrophic Olkiluoto reactor construction project in Finland. Areva has admitted to a $2.2 billion, or 55%, cost increase in the Finnish building site after three and a half years. The Flamanville project—the only one now being built in France—is already over $1 billion more expensive than projected after a single year under construction.

Widely portrayed as the model of corporate success, reactor-builder Areva is desperately short of money. As it begs a bailout from its
dominant owner, the French government, Areva’s mismanagement and overextension in promoting and building new reactors has
wrecked its image in worldwide capital markets. According to Mycle Schneider, Paris-based author of “Nuclear Power in France—
Beyond the Myth,” Areva shares have plunged by over 60% since June 2008, twice as much as the CAC40, the standard indicator of
the 40 largest French companies on the stock market.

EdF and Areva are at the core of what has been labeled as the global “nuclear renaissance.” Their escalating money problems underscore
an epic failure that has been a significant factor in the current global economic crisis. After a half- century of massive government
subsidies in the US, UK, France and elsewhere, atomic energy still staggers under an unsustainable load of high construction costs and
uncompetitive prices for the electricity it generates.
EdF’s recent $17.5 billion takeover of nuke utility British Energy came with a warning from EdF officials that England’s commitment to
wind turbines could undermine the future of nuclear power. The statement evoked widespread astonishment and scorn from the
environmental community.

4 thoughts on “The Crash of France’s Nuclear Poster Child

  1. Whooee! Coupla weeks ago, Greg Weston was holdin’ Areva up as the best choice for new reactor builds; way better than the screw-ups at AECL. Weston wrote that Areva had already built 100 new generation (EPR) reactors. In fact, as noted in the article you quoted, Areva has not completed even one EPR. They have 2 under construction. Both are way behind and way over budget.

    Areva’s just like the rest of ’em: dependent upon public money and gullible politicians.

    JB

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