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EDF Union Directors Walk Out of Board Meeting Over Fessenheim

Electricite de France SA board members belonging to the CGT union walked out of a meeting to protest the planned shutdown of a nuclear plant.

The four members walked out after the permanent halt of the Fessenheim plant in eastern France, with two 900-megawatt reactors, was added to the agenda for today’s discussion. The move would be an “economic, social and environmental blow,” the union said in a statement.

President Francois Hollande made an election pledge to close Fessenheim by the end of 2016 amid safety fears following the 2011 meltdown of the Fukushima power plant in Japan. The reactors’ concrete base is thinner than ones at other sites. The utility is planning to start a 1,650-megawatt reactor at Flamanville in Normandy that same year.

“It is nonsensical” to shut Fessenheim because nuclear energy is low carbon, the CGT said today. The union is the largest among French energy workers and has traditionally been a supporter of the country’s atomic industry.

“You can be sure” the plant will be closed, Energy Minister Philippe Martin told a Senate hearing today.

Renewable energy capacity will be increased to a point where atomic output will make up about half of all electricity generation, he said.

France gets about three-quarters of its power from EDF’s 58 nuclear reactors, a bigger proportion than any country.

Hollande vowed during his election campaign to reduce reliance on nuclear to half of total electricity output by about 2025. So far, he has promised the Fessenheim shutdown, an increase in renewables and a law next year that will address the future energy mix.

The law will cap nuclear-power capacity and provide the legal means to close reactors, the government has said.

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