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French nuclear dismantlement financing not yet secure-report
July 25, 2012 / 4:54 PM / 5 years ago

French nuclear dismantlement financing not yet secure-report

* EDF, Areva, CEA required to make provisions for dismantling

* Economic crisis not helping money set aside to yield enough

PARIS, July 25 (Reuters) - French companies operating in the nuclear industry, mainly EDF but also Areva, need to set aside more money for the future dismantling of nuclear power plants as well as dealing with nuclear waste, a parliamentary report said.

The nuclear financing committee (CNEF), composed of parliamentarians and experts, estimated that the 34 billion euros ($41.22 billion) worth of assets set aside by nuclear companies were unlikely to generate the 89 billion euros needed over the long-term.

EDF, Areva and the atomic research organisation CEA, are legally required to make provisions for the dismantling of the ageing nuclear plant fleet since 2006.

With 58 reactors, operated by EDF, France is the world’s most nuclear dependent country, but its new Socialist government seeks to rely less on atomic energy in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan last year.

The CNEF, which released its first report on dismantling, said the expected annual yield of 5 percent for the 34 billion euros worth of assets already set aside by the companies could prove too optimistic.

“There is no safety margin at the moment,” said Jean-Luc Lepine, a senior civil servant and head of the CNEF committee.

The report said the actual rate of return for the assets set aside by EDF between 2007 and 2011 -- which spans over one of the worst economic crisis in France -- had actually been 0.8 percent, far below the 5 percent target.

“Our feeling is that setting up a mechanism able to yield 5 percent is far from being straight-forward,” Lepine said.

An EDF spokesman said the utilities’ estimates were meant to reflect the long-term trends of the economy and were certified by the state auditors every fiscal year.

Lepine cited a 3.5-4 percent performance rate as a more prudent estimate. ($1 = 0.8275 euros) ($1 = 0.8248 euros) (Reporting by Marion Douet; writing by Michel Rose; editing by Muriel Boselli and James Jukwey)

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