As French Rivers Dry, Nukes Still Need Cooling Water

August 18, 2022


France is allowing nuclear power plants to pump hot water into rivers in a bid to keep reactors running during the heatwave.

State-owned nuclear power giant EDF will be allowed to discharge hot water from five plants after a temporary waiver to environmental rules was extended.

France has one of the largest nuclear fleets in the world, with 56 nuclear power reactors supplying more than 70pc of its electricity.

They operate under stringent safety and environmental rules, overseen by regulator ASN which carries out more than 1,800 inspections per year.

Those rules include measures to protect nearby rivers from high water temperatures that would harm wildlife and plants.

Many nuclear power plants use vast quantities of water to absorb waste heat produced by the plants and to cool down its equipment.


High river temperatures have in recent weeks threatened to reduce France’s already low nuclear output at a time when nearly half its reactors are offline because of corrosion problems and maintenance.

The ASN watchdog said on Monday it had approved a government request for the waivers introduced in mid July to be prolonged at the Bugey, Saint Alban, Tricastin, Blayais and Golfech power plants.

“The government considers that it is a public necessity to… maintain the production of these five power stations until Sept. 11 despite the exceptional weather conditions,” ASN said in a statement.

Air temperatures are expected to climb into the mid to high 30s Celsius this week across much of France, further warming rivers that nuclear operator EDF (EDF.PA) uses to cool reactors.

Still from the DW report above:


4 Responses to “As French Rivers Dry, Nukes Still Need Cooling Water”

  1. My goodnes. There is hardly a river left. Never seen these things before so extreme.

  2. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    The scientist in the video (Eric Sauquet), mentions the rainfall deficit but not the additional desiccation by the heat and super-low humidity levels.

  3. John Oneill Says:

    Eleven of France’s fifteen inland nuclear power plants have evaporative cooling towers, which greatly reduce water demand. In the last five years, a relatively simple and cheap method has been developed to capture some of the water lost in the cooling tower plume. A wire grid can be placed across the tower mouth, on which fog droplets condense and run down to be collected and reused. However, most of the droplets go round the wires. By first directing a beam of ions at them, they can be given an electric charge and attracted to the grid, with no effect on the cooling function. This is expected to reduce water consumption by about 30%. A team at MIT has been refining the process, which can also be used on towers of gas and coal power plants. Last month, Germany passed emergency legislation to reopen 8 GW of mothballed coal power stations. Low river levels, however, could interfere with the barges shipping coal to them.

  4. John Oneill Says:

    Mark Lynas’ book ‘Six Degrees’, fourteen years ago predicted that at some stage between one and six degrees of warming, the whole of Southern Europe, from Portugal to Greece and Turkey, would essentially become part of the Sahara Desert. We’re only at about 1 C up so far.

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