Tuesday, March 10, 2015

France's Approach to Nuclear Power

For John, BLUFGeorge may be right about that Architect thing.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

I was following a discussion on line that included a mention of the French Aircraft Carrier, the nuclear powered Charles DeGaulle.  A comment was made about the French use of nuclear power and one participant wrote:
as a partial aside that might be of interest....several years ago in France I had dinner with a French Minister responsible for housing employees associated with the nuclear power plants-inter alia.

We started discussing US nuke plants and the French approach.  As most may know, France is about 90% nuke generated power and they havn't had a major issue since the plant inceptions in the 50's.

He said there is a fundamental difference between how the French and US went about nuclear power that has made all the difference—The French approached it as an engineering issue and the US as a legal issue.  Since power grids transferred the energy across the entire nation, the French government sponsored/managed them vice the provinces.

The French system is a standardized model generation facility with upgrades as developed. Everything is uniform and all employees go through a govt managed education and certification program. Their record is near spotless.

"The French approached it as an engineering issue and the US as a legal issue".  Of course we approach a lot of things as a legal issue.  We are a nation of laws, as opposed to a nation of bureaucrats, but there is something to be said for giving the Engineers the lead in these kinds of things.  The French do have a great safety record with regard to nuclear power.  But, is it the engineers, the lawyers or the bureaucrats?

Regards  —  Cliff

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