French Industry Minister Rejects Poll Backing Nuclear Withdrawal

Source:

"What would be the cost in terms of energy independence?"

Bloomberg, Tara Patel

French Industry Minister Eric Besson rejected the findings of an opinion poll that called for the gradual phasing-out of the country's 58 nuclear reactors.

"I don't think it would be a good thing for the French, for our economy, for employment and for our competitiveness and our purchasing power" if the country abandoned atomic power, Besson told RMC radio today. "What would be the cost in terms of energy independence?"

France, which depends on nuclear power for about three quarters of its electricity, should "progressively" exit from atomic energy, according to 60% of respondents to a Viavoice opinion poll. Thirty-five% are against the change, the newspaper said.

Surveys in France since reactor meltdowns in Japan in March have indicated mixed support for the future of an industry that employs an estimated 200,000 people including workers at Electricite de France SA's reactors.

Fifty-one percent of respondents in an Ifop survey said France's reactors, along with its nuclear energy policy, should be phased out in the next 25 years. Just 19% wanted a more rapid pullout.

A TNS Sofres poll organized by Paris-based Electricite de France SA, operator of the country's reactors, found that 55% of those surveyed were against abandoning nuclear energy, even as 68% said an accident like Fukushima was possible in France.

"I don't think the same French who are saying they want to get out of nuclear would accept to pay 50%60% more for their power," Besson said today. "For a generation, we don't have another solution to produce low-cost energy."

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