08.02.2013_No37 / News in Brief

Nuclear Accident In France Could Cost More Than EUR 400 Billion, Says IRSN

Security & Safety

8 Feb (NucNet): A nuclear accident similar to the one at Japan’s Fukushima-Daiichi would cost France more than 400 billion euro (about 535 billion US dollars), or 20 percent of its economic output, French Institute of Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) said in a report on the possible financial impact of a nuclear crisis.

The report says a major disaster damaging one of France’s 58 commercial nuclear reactors and contaminating the environment with radioactive material would displace an estimated 100,000 people, destroy crops and create massive power outages.

The bulk of financial losses would come from damage to France’s image. A nuclear accident would hit exports of French delicacies and the tourism industry, the world's biggest in terms of visitors, costing France about EUR 160 billion, the report said.

The IRSN and a former World Bank economist examined two possible disaster scenarios prompting a core meltdown at a typical 900-megawatt French nuclear reactor.

A “serious” accident, rated six on the one-to-seven International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES) scale used by the International Atomic Energy Agency and one level higher than the Three Mile Island accident of 1979 in the US, would cost France about EUR 120 billion, or six percent of its gross domestic product (GDP).

The consequences – with up to 10,000 people evacuated from contaminated zones – would be “manageable”, the IRSN said.

A “major” accident, rated seven on the INES scale and similar to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine and Japan's Fukushima-Daiichi, would be a “catastrophe” that would “strongly and durably traumatise the country”, the IRSN said.

The health impact from the release of radioactive material would be severe, the contamination of land would be long-lasting and neighbouring countries would be affected.

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David Dalton

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