Growing local awareness of impending shutdown of Fessenheim NPP, France

Even if the issue of closing the ageing French nuclear power plant of Fessenheim (France) has been widely discussed the past few years, the discussions have mainly focused on the legitimacy of closing it. Until lately stakeholders (except for antinuclear activists) were mostly concerned by rejecting the idea of a closure and buried their head in the sand, refusing to discuss any transition issues until this autumn.

The inevitability of a closure seems however to have reach the stakeholders and the Council of the region Haut-Rhin organized the 15th-18th of October 2018 a very ambitious conference, named “Ca turbine” in Colmar, France. For five days, different conferences and activities were organized in order to launch a reflection on the energy transition of the region. Very different aspects were scrutinized, from the future of the traditional Alsatian houses to the climate changes in Alsace and its consequences for local enterprises. Of course, the issue of the decommissioning of the Fessenheim reactors were touched upon, notably by the geographer Teva Meyer and the representative of the ASN (Agency for Nuclear Security) Pierre Bois, along with the Atomic Heritage researcher Florence Fröhlig.

The 18th October, participants were proposed an energetic transregional journey, with the visit of the Hydraulic station at Vogelgrun (France), followed by the visit of the Thermes of Bad-Krozingen (Germany) with a focus on the energetic supply of the premises. After a lunch conference offered by the municipality of Breisach (Germany) with three presentations, the program continued with the visit of the Breisach-Baden Campus – a French German premise supporting start-ups. The journey finished symbolically by a speech of the president of the departmental Council, Brigitte Klinbert, attesting the interest of the region for sustainable development.

This autumn was also the moment the university of Haute Alsace, UHA and CRESAT, Mulhouse chose to launch its Observatory of the Dismantling and the Reconversion of Fessenheim’s territory on November 12th, 2018 in order to initiate a scientific reflection about the decommissioning and reconversion of the Fessenheim NPP. The first set of presentations concerned the patrimonialization of the nuclear and the valorization of a local history. The second set of presentations engaged discussions about postnuclear experiences worldwide.

Two weeks later, the 23th of November, the CERDACC (Centre Européen de Recherche sur le Droit des Accidents Collectifs et des Catastrophes) organized a one-day workshop “Mémoire industrielle, facteur de prévention du risque” in Colmar. The first part of the conference « Désindustrialisation et fabrique du Futur: les enjeux de la mémoire industrielle » focused on the aspect of risk and ethics, while the second part of the conference, after a joint discussion with experts capitalizing their experiences, took up the legal frame around the nuclear production in France.