As we saw in the previous article by Pierre Bonnaure, though it has long been decried for the dangers inherent in its production structures and the very long-lived waste that it generates, nuclear power may yet recover its credibility, particularly in France. However, on close examination, we see that the nuclear industry is beset by a number of unresolved questions, beginning with the dismantling of installations that have become obsolete or are set to become so.
Nuclear power took off after the Second World War, but several generations of technology have been developed since then, and most currently functioning power-stations – mainly second-generation installations – are theoretically nearing the end of their useful lives, at least in terms of what was said when they were being built. The problem therefore arises of their dismantling and the clean-up of the sites on which they were built, a thorny question on which Pierre Bonnaure casts light in this article (prospects, strategies, financing, management of waste etc.). Unfortunately, it emerges that in France nothing has really been resolved, that public debate on the matter is decidedly limited and that investment (both financial investment and research) is not commensurate with the needs of a sector which is, after all, the source of three quarters of national electricity production.