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ITER Reactor, France


Description:

ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) is a joint effort between the EU and six other countries (India, Japan, China, Russia, South Korea and the United States) that officially began in 2006 with the aim of developing ways to create huge quantities of energy by reproducing the nuclear reactions in the sun, so-called nuclear fusion. Taking advantage of the Cadarache facility (south east of France) they will try to achieve the goal thorough the construction of a reactor.

Unlike traditional fission used in existing power plants, nuclear fusion involves the fusing of two atoms instead of splitting them, which theoretically should yield even more energy and produce less long-term nuclear waste.

The EU, as host party for the ITER complex, is contributing 45 % of the cost, with the other six parties contributing 9 % each. The estimated cost including construction, running costs and research is €18 billion.

Opposition to the project is lead by the anti-nuclear movement in France thorough the association called Sortir du Nucleaire (get out of nuclear power in French) who launched, among others, the campaign 'Stop ITER'. Against some arguments that the promoters and the mainstream media claim, they argue that it won't be safe because tritium constitutes a high risk in terms of water and air pollution and that won't be clean because there will be nuclear waste.

Finally, it has to be said that there is not widespread opposition against the project. This could be explained for several reasons: economic investments in the region, the project is said to be a research project (activists would be more focused in nuclear waste storage and disposal from existing plants), and the fact that in France as a country, nuclear power has a high level of acceptance in public opinion and lack of knowledge about the issues from the general public.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:ITER Reactor, France
Country:France
State or province:Provence-Alpes-Côte-dAzur
Location of conflict:Saint-Paul-lès-Durance
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Nuclear
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Other

Project Details and Actors

Project details

ITER is designed to produce approximately 500 MW of fusion power sustained for up to 1,000 seconds by the fusion of about 0.5 g of deuterium/tritium mixture in its approximately 840 m3 reactor chamber.

Radioactive waste estimated: 30000 tones.

Project area:192
Level of Investment:24,470,000,000
Type of populationUrban
Company names or state enterprises:Agence Iter France from France
Itinerary Task Force from France
Relevant government actors:The General Councils from the six départements closest to ITER (Hautes Alpes, Alpes de Haute Provence, Alpes Maritimes, Vaucluse, Var and Bouches du Rhône)., Provence-Alpes-Cote dAzur Regional Council., Communauté du Pays dAix.
International and Finance InstitutionsEuropean Union (EU)
European Domestic Agency Fusion for Energy (F4E)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Sortir du Nucleaire

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches

Impacts

Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Deaths
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of landscape/sense of place

Outcome

Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Development of alternatives:Focus research and investments on safer and renewable energy sources.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:It is a matter pretty unknown for the general public. Only the anti-nuclear movement has protested against it and with limited strength. Consequently, it could be said that there are little chances to stop the project. However there is still a long way to go for the project since the trials will not start until 2020.

Sources & Materials

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Article in The Independent:
http://goo.gl/3qhKsz

Aricle in Smartplanet:
http://goo.gl/ElT17g

BBC News:
http://goo.gl/Vzl2o6

ITER webpage:
http://www.iter.org/

Stop ITER campaign (in French):
http://www.stop-iter.org/

Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ITER

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Pictures of a protest in Marseille against ITER:
http://www.stop-iter.org/spip.php?rubrique15

Videos of a protest in Marseille against ITER:
http://www.stop-iter.org/spip.php?rubrique16

Meta information

Contributor:Alfred Burballa Noria
Last update18/08/2019