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Chooz Nuclear Power Plant, Meuse River, Ardennes, France

Early conflict against EDF nuclear power plant (two 1500 MW reactors). Local population refused them because of risks of nuclear power. This generated violent demonstrations and sabotage. The reactors were built.


Until the beginning of 1960, Chooz was a small village with a predominantly rural population (about 700 inhabitants). The bordering cities are Foisches , Givet, Rancenne, Ham-sur-Meuse… in the Ardennes department, France, on the Meuse River in a panhandle protruding into Belgium.  

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Chooz Nuclear Power Plant, Meuse River, Ardennes, France
State or province:Ardennes. Grand Est
Location of conflict:Chooz
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Nuclear
Specific commodities:Uranium
Project Details and Actors
Project details

A Nuclear Reactor costs between 3 and 3.2 Billion Euros.

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Project area:200
Level of Investment for the conflictive project7,091,358,000 (both reactors)
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:9,337 inhabitants
Start of the conflict:01/05/1984
End of the conflict:01/05/1984
Company names or state enterprises:EDF (Électricité de France) from France
Relevant government actors:The government of Pierre Mauroy, set up by President François Mitterrand, confirmed the building of the reactors.
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Local committees
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Industrial workers
Landless peasants
Local government/political parties
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Official complaint letters and petitions
Referendum other local consultations
Street protest/marches
Threats to use arms
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Desertification/Drought, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Other Environmental impacts, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow)
Potential: Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Other Environmental impacts- Radioactive discharges from the purification and filtration processes used in nuclear power plants.
- Thermal discharges: a nuclear power plant produces heat, causing the surrounding - aquatic environment to warm up.
- Chemical discharges: these are found in the water used to cool the plant.
The water is filtered before being released into nature.
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Occupational disease and accidents
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Militarization and increased police presence, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Repression
Violent targeting of activists
Proposal and development of alternatives:However today there are still non-violent opposition to nuclear.
The "Sortir du nucléaire" network, the "Greenpeace" association, the collective "Agir pour l'environnement" (Acting for the environment) are working for a referendum to finally abandon nuclear power and promote renewable energies (sun, wind, wood).
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:From 1983 on, we see a decline in demonstrations, mentalities change.
There is a weariness in the face of repression and violence, which discourages many people. All the more so because that same year the anti-nuclear list came behind the pro-nuclear list. The local population seems to accept "fatality".

" Willingly or by force, the Chooz plant will be built.. [4]
Lavigne, Prefect of the Ardennes of Giscard - declaration in 1980 after the agitated public utility enquiry and the referendum of 1979.

The work on the reactors continued and operation started in 1996-1997

Indeed, in this case, there was no environmental justice, the nuclear power station was built.
Sources & Materials

[1] C. De Queiros,“Discussion de la mise en service annoncée de deux nouveaux réacteurs à la centrale nucléaire de Chooz”, Brussels, Belgium (03/1997).
[click to view]

[2] Chooz Committee, “Chooz, légitime violence…”, Chooz, France, (04/04/1981).
[click to view]

[3] François Mitterrand, letter, Paris, (21/04/1981).
[click to view]

[4] Lavigne, Prefect of the Ardennes of Giscard declaration (1980).
[click to view]

Conference paper, EDF (2019)
[click to view]

Sortir du nucléaire
[click to view]

La centrale nucléaire de Chooz (05/10/ 2008)
[click to view]

« Un récit de lutte de Chooz » (05/1998)
[click to view]

Centrale nucléaire de Chooz
[click to view]

Meta information
Last update13/12/2020
Conflict ID:5187
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