France: Commitment to Plutonium Fuel
The French nuclear program, second only to that of the United States in the number of reactors built or under construction, is now second to none in the size and scope of its development overall. By the 1990s France will have light water reactor stations in every quarter of the republic, with fifty-six large Westinghouse-type pressurized water reactors altogether; a huge uranium enrichment center in the Rhone Valley (Eurodif, a French-controlled, multinational venture already in place); a large center for the reprocessing of commercial fuel at La Hague; and the big Superphenix breeder reactor at Creys-Malville east of Lyon.
France's extraordinarily ambitious commitment électronucléaire appears to rest in part on strong, rocklike foundations. Its program for developing, building, maintaining, and operating reactors, while certainly no model of decentralized democratic procedure with opportunity for public intervention, is unsurpassed in its managerial and technical coherence and has produced results that are the envy of the nuclear industry worldwide.1 The French program, moreover, appears to be backed up by a substantial, persevering program of research and development. In nuclear waste management, for example, the French are far____________________