Fessenheim nuclear power plant

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Fessenheim nuclear power plant
Fessenheim nuclear power plant with the two reactor buildings (gray), in front of it building with storage and decay basin for the fuel rods, in the foreground the Rhine canal (photo from southeast, 2010)
Fessenheim nuclear power plant with the two reactor buildings (gray), in front of it building with storage and decay basin for the fuel rods, in the foreground the Rhine canal (photo from southeast, 2010)
Fessenheim nuclear power plant (France)
Fessenheim nuclear power plant
Coordinates 47 ° 54 '13 "  N , 7 ° 33' 45"  E Coordinates: 47 ° 54 '13 "  N , 7 ° 33' 45"  E
Country: France
Owner: Shareholders in the Fessenheim nuclear power plant (F):
* Electricité de France 67.5%
* EnBW 17.5%
* Centrales Nucléaires en Participations (CNP) 15% ( Alpiq , Axpo & BKW Energie 5% each, until December 31, 2017)
Operator: Electricité de France
Project start: 1970
Commercial operation: Jan. 1, 1978
Shutdown: February 22nd and June 29th, 2020

Active reactors:


Decommissioned reactors (gross):

2 (1840 MW)
Energy fed in in 2018: 11,947 GWh
Energy fed in since commissioning: 430,200 GWh
Website: Homepage of the nuclear power plant
Was standing: June 29, 2020
The data source of the respective entries can be found in the documentation .
The pink area east of the municipality of Fessenheim and west of the Rhine canal ( Grand Canal d'Alsace ) denotes the NPP site

The Fessenheim nuclear power plant (in French: Centrale Nucléaire de Fessenheim , abbreviation FSH ) was commissioned in 1978 and was last (2020) the oldest and lowest performing French nuclear power plant .

The plant is located about two kilometers southeast of the town Fessenheim ( Haut-Rhin / Haut-Rhin) on the Grand Canal d'Alsace (Grand Canal d'Alsace) , one kilometer west of the border with Germany , 25 km west-southwest of Freiburg  (D), 23 kilometers southeast from Colmar , 24 km northeast of Mulhouse (F) and 40 km north of Basel .

Reactor 1 was shut down on February 22, 2020 and reactor 2 on June 29, 2020, with the result that the power plant was completely and permanently shut down.


In 1962, the Électricité de France (EDF) proposed the construction of a nuclear power plant in Fessenheim for the first time. The German energy supplier RWE showed a brief interest in this, but then refrained from cooperating in favor of building the nuclear power plant in Biblis . The companies Siemens and Babcock took part in the project and proposed a gas-cooled graphite - moderated reactor , similar to the French models, with an electrical output of 500 MW and natural uranium as fuel. The Groupement Atomique Alsacienne Atlantique (GAAA) changed the reactor type slightly and increased the output to 750 MW. Since the French state now concentrated on light water reactors from the US manufacturer Westinghouse , no state subsidies were provided for the construction of the plant. At times they wanted to build it anyway.

In 1967 a building permit was issued for both reactors, but in 1969 it was canceled by the EdF in favor of the construction of light water reactors . One aspect of this was the too high acquisition costs: Siemens offered two light water reactors; EdF decided on the Westinghouse reactors.

From the beginning, the construction of four reactors was planned on the site; it was not until 1991 that the construction of blocks III and IV was shelved .


Functional diagram of a pressurized water reactor without a cooling tower

From 1977 to 2020, two pressurized water reactors , each with 880 megawatts of net electrical output, were in operation, since 2020 only reactor 2, which was shut down on June 29, 2020. Fessenheim was the oldest still in operation nuclear power plant in France until the end of June 2020. Over 430 TWh of electrical energy has been generated since it was commissioned (as of 2018).


The EDF owns 67.5% of the facility. Energie Baden-Württemberg (EnBW) (formerly Badenwerk ) holds 17.5% of the shares. The share includes a share of 17.5% in the operating and investment costs and, in return, the receipt of 17.5% of the electricity production (" virtual power plant slice"). In 2009 and 2010, for antitrust and technical reasons, the subscription rights to Fessenheim were exchanged for electricity purchase rights from other German power plants as part of a " swap " with E.ON. However, 17.5% of the fixed and variable costs of the power plant (i.e. the investment, operating, retrofitting and repair costs) are still with EnBW. Compensation to be paid by the German side in the event of premature shutdown was denied by the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of the Environment in mid-2017 .

The remaining 15% of the shares have been held by a consortium of three Swiss companies since 1971 through Kernkraftwerks-Beteiligungsgesellschaft AG (KBG) or Centrales Nucléaires en Participations (CNP) by way of electricity purchase rights and obligations : the energy groups Alpiq , each with 5% , Axpo and BKW Energie (until 1996: BKW, Bernische Kraftwerke ). This cooperation with the Fessenheim NPP was formed because the Swiss nuclear power plant in Graben could not be built after violent protests by the population; the contract was terminated by the consortium at the beginning of September 2017 for reasons not stated on December 31, 2017.


At the end of 2017, more than 1,000 employees and service providers were employed at the Fessenheim nuclear power plant. After the shutdown in June 2020, 294 jobs will remain until 2023, followed by 60 jobs. The shutdown of the power plant was therefore criticized by the French trade union CGT .


The mayor of the municipality of Fessenheim said in April 2012 that the EDF pays annual business taxes of 5.5 million euros; the nuclear power plant director put the 2012 annual profit at EUR 400 million.

In 2015 KBG obtained 637 gigawatt hours of energy from the NPP .



The permissible limit values per year for the emission of radioactive gases from the ongoing operation of the nuclear power plant into the air are for tritium and noble gases according to EDF 1480  Terabecquerel (TBq, one TBq = one trillion Bq); for iodine and other elements 111 gigabecquerels (GBq, one GBq = one billion Bq). Up to 74 TBq tritium as well as 925 GBq iodine and other elements may be emitted into the Rhine side canal via the wastewater. According to the Badische Zeitung , the nuclear power plant released a good 24 TBq of tritium into the Rhine in 2009.

Heat load

The legal limit for the heating of the Rhine canal from the cooling water of the reactors is 4  K ; the maximum value for the underflow at 30 ° C. During its operation, the nuclear power plant pollutes the Rhine with an estimated waste heat of up to 3622  MW . Until the German nuclear phase-out in 2011, it was the third largest maximum heat load for the Rhine after the Biblis and Philippsburg nuclear power plants . During the heat wave in Europe in 2003 there was an additional increase in the water temperature of the Rhine canal below the cooling water inlet of up to 1.7 ° C. In contrast to other power plants, there is no recooling option for the cooling water required for operation by means of a cooling tower . Due to the drought and heat in Europe , one of the two reactors had to be completely decommissioned in August 2018 and the output of the second had to be reduced.

Ten year inspections

For every reactor block in France, proof must be provided every ten years that the systems are equipped with functioning technology and meet the current safety requirements ( French “Visite décennale”).

Block I.

Block I was shut down between October 2009 and March 2010 for its third ten-year overhaul. In July 2011, the French nuclear regulatory authority, Autorité de sûreté nucléaire (ASN), confirmed the possibility of extending the term of the unit by ten years. For this purpose, the bottom plate of the reactor would have to be reinforced by June 30, 2013, in addition to around 40 other requirements, in order to increase its security against melting through of the reactor core , and a device would have to be installed by December 31, 2012 to permanently dissipate the residual heat guaranteed even if the cooling systems fail. The final decision was to be made by the French government first in autumn and then at the end of the year after the two parts of the EU-wide nuclear power plant stress test were completed.

Electricity production at the Fessenheim nuclear power plant from 1977 to 2010

In the night of November 6th to 7th, 2011, Block I was approached again.

In April 2013, the power plant director announced that the concrete slab under the reactor pressure vessel would soon be reinforced; in autumn 2017 this ASN was not yet implemented.

Unit I was taken off the grid in July 2017 to replace fuel elements and put back into operation on October 1. The shutdown of the reactor began on February 21, 2020 at around 8:30 p.m. and ended as scheduled on February 22, 2020 at 2:00 a.m.

Block II

Block II was shut down on April 16, 2011 for its third 10-year overhaul. The revision cost over 200 million euros; several thousand temporary workers were employed. Above all, three steam generators were replaced, and tests were carried out on the welds and a pressure test on the containment. Block II was restarted on March 6, 2012.

In mid-June 2016, Block II was shut down after it was discovered that a steam generator made in Le Creusot had been made of partly inferior steel.

The head of the ASN Strasbourg region stated on October 6, 2017 that the evaluation of the documents subsequently sent to the ASN would take months. ( See also expiry of the operating license )

On June 29, 2020, reactor II - and with it the entire electricity production in this power plant - was finally shut down late in the evening at 11 p.m.

Data of the reactor blocks

The Fessenheim nuclear power plant has two power plant blocks :

Reactor block Reactor type net
start of building First criticality Network
Fessenheim I. Pressurized water reactor 880 MW 920 MW 1st September 1971 March 7, 1977 April 6, 1977 January 1, 1978 February 22, 2020
Fessenheim II Pressurized water reactor 880 MW 920 MW February 1, 1972 June 27, 1977 7th October 1977 April 1, 1978 June 29, 2020

The reactor pressure vessel has a diameter of 3,988 meters, a height of 12,332 meters and a wall thickness of 200 mm. It was made of grade three steel grade SA-508 and is designed for a pressure of 172.4 bar at a temperature of 343 ° C. EDF has carried out studies on how certain properties of this type of steel change after exposure to radioactivity.


930,000 people live within a radius of 30 km, 830,000 in the Basel agglomeration and 770,000 in the Strasbourg agglomeration .

The European Union (EU) led by the nuclear disaster in Fukushima 2011/12 a stress test for nuclear power plants by: In this study (in the EU stand at 68 nuclear power plant sites 134 reactors: of which 24 sites were examined in person) was also the NPP Fessenheim inspected by foreign nuclear experts in a so-called peer review . The results were announced in October 2012. Among other things, the following defects are certified at the Fessenheim NPP:

  • The Fessenheim nuclear power plant's earthquake resistance is lower than that of all German nuclear power plants.
  • In the event of a flood that is so severe that it only occurs every 100,000 to a million years, the loss of central safety-relevant facilities is possible.
  • Due to the positioning of the safety systems far below the level of the Rhine Canal, there is a risk of flooding for the entire site.
  • A particularly relevant risk is assessed as the fact that the centrally important safety functions of both the secondary-side heat dissipation and the primary-side coolant replenishment depend on only one container per block.

In this stress test, according to the press, Fessenheim came off as one of the safest among French nuclear power plants despite these deficiencies. As a result, additional security measures had to be taken in Fessenheim as well. However, according to the French nuclear regulator, these will extend the service life of the two reactors by another 10 years.

On March 18, 2014, 60 Greenpeace opponents of nuclear power reached the site of the nuclear power plant with a self-built bridge from a truck container over the barbed wire fence, thus raising further safety issues. Stéphane Bouillon, then prefect of the Alsace region, claimed that there was no security risk at any time. Demonstrators only climbed onto the roof of the reactor building; they would not have had access to the premises.

Storage and decay pool for fuel rods

In July 2011, the French nuclear supervisory authority announced that it was positive about extending the service life of the nuclear power plant: among other things, however, on the condition that additional safety precautions are taken for the storage and cooling pools, as there are uncertainties as to whether the cooling systems affected in the event of a dam break would withstand.


The inspection of the containment showed, according to the tightness tests carried out in the course of the report in June 2010, that the measured leakage value (see tightness test ) was within the permitted limits. However, the container (outdated design) has a smaller volume than modern security containers. The containment is designed to withstand a pressure of 3.73 bar. The space within the containment has a height of 53.5 meters and a diameter of 39 meters.


Location of the nuclear power plant in Oberrheingraben on the upper Rhine aquifer (rhénan Fosse)
Map of the earthquake zones in Germany

The management of the nuclear power plant regards the so-called Basel earthquake of 1356 as a reference earthquake for the design of the earthquake safety of the nuclear power plant. It is considered to be the strongest historically documented quake in Central Europe as well as the oldest historical earthquake event north of the Alps. In the Basel (CH) region there were repeated strong earthquakes; the region is considered to have the second highest earthquake risk in Switzerland after that around the Valais . The strength of the Basel earthquake is now estimated on the basis of historical records to a strength between 9 and 10 on the MSK scale and around 6.2 to 6.7 or 6.6 on the Richter scale .

In studies, Switzerland has so far assumed the extrapolated possibility of an earthquake of magnitude 6.0 to 6.5 every 100 and one of magnitude 6.5 to 7.0 every 1000 to 3000 years; the vibrations would be more violent than z. B. in the magnitude nine quake off Fukushima. For its nuclear power plants, Switzerland requires the seismic safety rating to be at least one earthquake of magnitude 7; After a severe earthquake in Japan in 2007, the earthquake risks in Switzerland were re-evaluated in the 'Pegasos study', twice as high as before.

The Upper Rhine Graben is a seismically active area; The nuclear power plant is located on the edge of an earthquake hazard zone classified in Germany according to DIN 4149 with the second highest level two or in a zone of the French earthquake risk areas classified there with the third highest level three and about 20 kilometers away from a zone of the next higher level. According to the operator, the power plant is designed for an earthquake of around 6.7 ( Richter scale ). The tertiary filling of the Rhine Trench is similar to that of loose rock .

In spring 2011, the President of the Local Security Commission (CLIS) announced a new report on the earthquake safety of the power plant, based on an earthquake measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale ; The possible reactions to failures of the coolant circuits are also to be examined. The former president of the Freiburg administrative district , Julian Würtenberger , passed on specific questions about the report to the chairman of CLIS:

  • Location of the reference earthquake: directly below the nuclear power plant or somewhere else?
  • Also consideration of local, possibly seismically active disturbances?
  • Review of possible effects on buildings and systems in the area of ​​the nuclear power plant, the dam and the (neighboring) hydropower plants?

In the fall of 2011, the Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire (IRSN), after evaluating the information provided by 80 French nuclear plant operators , demanded quick improvements to some plants and a reassessment of the earthquake safety of the nuclear power plant near Fessenheim.

A renewed analysis of soil samples by the IRSN presented at the meeting of the local security commission (CLIS) in October 2015 revealed no risk for the stability of the flood dam to the Canal d'Alsace in the event of an isolated quake, but it did for two successive tremors. CLIS President Michel Habig promised further investigations. The head of the neighboring regional council Freiburg Bärbel Schäfer had requested this.


The foundation of the plant is 1.5 meters thick. This is the thinnest foundation of any French nuclear power plant. For comparison: the floor slabs of the Japanese nuclear power plants in Fukushima , which were damaged in a magnitude 9 earthquake, are seven meters thick. The French Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) recommended in June 2011 that the bottom plate of the reactor be reinforced. As part of the recommendation for a possible further ten-year extension of operations, which was issued at the beginning of July 2011, the French supervisory authority ASN demanded, among other things, that the foundation should be reinforced by June 30, 2013 so that it can absorb or remove the corium in the event of a core meltdown. can hold within the containment.

Flooding of the nuclear power plant could result in radioactive contamination of the Rhine if the base plate ruptures or melts at the same time.


The power plant is located in the middle of the Upper Rhine aquifer , one of the most important aquifers in Central Europe, which is used to produce drinking water.


If the dam breaks, the power plant is only inadequately protected against flooding from the adjacent canal. The water in the canal is also used for cooling. The fastening of the canal is also at risk of earthquakes.

Emergency preparedness

Plane crashes

The EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg is located around 32 kilometers south-south-west of the power plant, with around 95,600 aircraft movements annually. In 2007 there were 82,025 aircraft movements.


According to the Paris Nuclear Liability Convention and the “Brussels Supplementary Convention”, the holder is himself liable for the consequences of a “nuclear event”; he can not this liability z. B. shift it to a supplier . The national liability regulations apply regardless of nationality, place of residence or residence.

According to the legal situation applicable in France in September 2011, the operator is liable for such an event for damages up to an amount of 91.5 million euros; if further compensation options are taken into account, the total compensation amount comes to 330 million euros; to the Treaty on European Union states successful ratification of the "audit trails" in 2004 by Germany and France signed to the aforementioned nuclear liability conventions results in a total compensation sum of 1.5 billion euros for damage due to a nuclear accident in a French nuclear site. A further 2.5 billion euros in compensation can be made available via Section 38 of the German Atomic Energy Act . For comparison: In mid-April 2011, estimates of the follow-up costs of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima amounted to up to 130 billion euros.

Cooling reactor and fuel element store

In the event of a complete failure of the cooling water supply from the Rhine side canal, the resulting heat of reaction should, according to the EDF, be dissipated by steam output via existing steam generators, the water quantities required for this would be available in containers, and the replacement of the water loss resulting from the steam output could be guaranteed via a groundwater well. Sufficient water reserves would also be available in the event of a failure of the cooling basin .

In the summer of 2003 , the reactor building had to be sprayed with water from the outside in order to avoid overheating with a subsequent shutdown (shutdown would have occurred when a temperature of 50 ° C was reached, it reached 48.5 ° C).

In spring 2015, the renewal of the water law permit that had become necessary for the discharge of pollutants etc. sparked discussions. B. Retention basin for any radioactive cooling or extinguishing water before (re) discharge into the Rhine.


Excerpt from the evacuation zones of the Fessenheim nuclear power plant with locations on the German side (until 2015)

The original disaster control concept included the evacuation of a "central zone" two kilometers from the nuclear power plant within six hours; for an evacuation of a so-called "extended zone" with a radius of ten kilometers were allotted 24 hours. Around 50,000 people would be affected.

In the wake of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima , the present on the German side emergency plans were from the spring 2011 Emergency Management Agency of the Regional Council of Freiburg revised: the evacuation zone should be extended from the current 10 km to 25; it would have affected around 453,000 people. In November 2013, this concept had not yet been implemented.

In 2014, the German Radiation Protection Commission issued new recommendations on disaster management in the vicinity of a GAU : The "outer zone" should now encompass a radius of 100 instead of 25 kilometers around the affected systems, the " central zone " of 20 instead of 10 kilometers; Sections of the population affected here should be evacuated within 24 hours of being alerted, and the iodine tablets should be distributed accordingly after 12 hours.

At the beginning of May, the Freiburg regional council presented the renewed emergency plans for the Fessenheim nuclear power plant: the residents of Bremgarten , Grißheim and those in the Breisgau industrial park, i.e. around 4,200 people, would have to be evacuated within six hours , almost 2,000 of them on the site of the former Eschbach military airport. If the entire community plus the business park were evacuated, around 20,500 people would be there. In the central zone there would be 26 district municipalities, thus another 130,000 people. Together with districts and districts of Freiburg it would be around 165,000, in the case of the evacuation of the whole of Freiburg around 350,000. A representative of the authorities assumed that "two thirds [of the population] went away by themselves". Several communities such as Bollschweil or Vogtsburg made objections: They wanted their entire communities to be included in the evacuation zones, not just sub-locations.

Iodine tablets

In September 2009, the Ministry of the Interior of the State of Baden-Wuerttemberg, in response to a request from the state parliament member Marianne Wonnay, pointed out that all urban and rural districts of the administrative district of Freiburg as well as parts of the administrative district of Karlsruhe and the administrative district of Tübingen were in the so-called "remote zone" ( that is less than 100 km away from the nuclear power plant) and that the " potassium iodide tablets intended to be dispensed in the event of an accident " are stored in Immendingen (80 km east of Freiburg).

Emergency protection brochure

The regional council of Freiburg has published a so-called "emergency protection brochure" for the German population affected by an accident.


On the French side, urban planning and settlement are to be adapted and controlled according to the risk of accidents with so-called “fast kinetics”, which means the possibility of an accident with the spread of pollutants at high speed; especially in a radius of 2 km around the nuclear power plant.

In addition, a Plan particulier d'intervention ( PPI , German special intervention plan ) has already been drawn up, a Post Nuclear Accident Plan ( PPA , German plan for the time after a nuclear accident ) is to be drawn up:

"This PPA shapes the actions of the public sector in matters of personal surveillance, food management, decontamination of the affected zone (which can extend up to 30 km) in matters of personal protection and surveillance."

Breakdowns (selection)

Operational disruptions with INES ratings zero (blue) and one (red), 1990 to 2008

Since the commissioning of the nuclear power plant, there have been over 200 incidents between 1989 and 2008, which would have been notifiable according to the German Radiation Protection Ordinance . On the international assessment scale for nuclear incidents (INES) they were classified at level 0 or 1, which are the categories with little or no safety-related importance and deviation from normal operation of the facility. For a better overview, only some of the more recent incidents are taken into account here, which are not part of the statistics in the operating faults ... figure .


On December 27, 2009 the second reactor of the nuclear power plant was switched off for the time being due to plant residues in the cooling circuit . The electricity company EDF announced that it was still unclear when the reactor would restart. The French nuclear regulatory authority classified the incident at the facility as INES 1. The reactor, which was taken off the grid for maintenance work on December 26th, should actually have resumed operation on December 27th around 6 a.m. According to EDF, when a water pump was restarted, plant debris got into the cooling circuit when the reactor was about to be started up. This affected the performance of the system.


On August 24, 2010, 50 cubic meters of radioactive gases were released, as the French state nuclear regulatory authority ASN reported on its website six days later. According to ASN, the decay activity of the gases from the reservoir was not measured before they escaped. The incident was rated INES 0.

On October 20, 2010, when a fan was switched on, a short circuit occurred. As a result, Unit 1 of the nuclear power plant was shut down for safety reasons.


Due to an operating error, the reactor 1 was switched off automatically on April 3, 2011. After being checked by the operator, the power plant was put back into operation on April 4, 2011. The ASN rated the incident as INES 1.


On April 25, according to the power plant operator, a fire broke out in the cooling section of an alternator in the machine hall of Block II in the non-nuclear part of the facility.

On May 8th, according to the power plant operator, there was another malfunction in Block II of the power plant: during a test in which the power plant was disconnected from the regular power grid in order to simulate a power failure , an automatic shutdown took place .

Several people were injured in an incident on September 5. Hydrogen peroxide vapor is said to have escaped.


On April 9th, several areas of the power plant were flooded with water due to the improper filling of a water reservoir. One strand of the reactor protection system from Unit 1, which is required for the emergency shutdown and activation of other safety systems, was damaged by the effects of water. A second redundant line was still functional. The system was shut down for repairs. INES classification: 1

Almost two years later, on March 4, 2016, the Süddeutsche Zeitung and the WDR published the results of their research, according to which this incident was significantly more serious than the ASN reported to the IAEA. The shutdown with control rods did not work; an emergency shutdown by flooding with boron ( emergency boring ) had to be carried out. In the absence of precise data, the temperature in the reactor fell uncontrollably for several minutes because it was still connected to the grid and steam was still being produced. Manfred Mertins, decades-long expert from the Society for Plant and Reactor Safety , testified that he was not aware of any case in which a power reactor in Western Europe had to be shut down due to an accident by adding boron. According to the research, the French nuclear regulatory authority ASN kept the IAEA secret about the emergency borrowing and other factors involved in the incident.

The ASN also did not mention the incident in the ASN report on the state of nuclear safety and radiation protection in France in 2014 in the Significant Events section . This annual report has been mandatory since 2012.


Reactor 2 was shut down in mid-June, initially for a check. The nuclear regulatory authority ( ASN ) later withdrew a test certificate. On October 18, 2016, the ASN announced that within three months, EDF had to perform an unscheduled check of the functionality of steam generators on five previously operating nuclear reactors, including reactor 1 in Fessenheim.


After the leakage of non-radioactive water from a pipe, reactor block 1 was temporarily shut down on April 1st. This was discovered during an inspection of a pipe system and repair work was initiated immediately.

At the beginning of August, the power plant operators reported an " INES I" incident to reactor I.

At the beginning of September, sealing work began on the roof of Reactor II, which had been shut down since June 2016.

Efforts to shutdown or non-commissioning

Use of part of the traditional Markgräfler costume in the logo of one of the resistance groups: the horn cap on the laughing anti-atomic sun
Part of the human chain from June 26, 2011 in front of the main entrance of the nuclear power plant

The president of the tri-national nuclear protection association TRAS Rudi Rechsteiner proposed a state treaty between Germany and France on the shutdown of the nuclear power plant in mid-2015 .

Civic engagement

In 1970 the “Wasps of Fessenheim”, three women, started a fight against the atom and to better inform the citizens: They organized conferences, gave interviews and produced a brochure entitled “Fessenheim: Life or Death of Alsace”.

In April 1971 there was the first demonstration against the construction of the nuclear power plant; it was organized by the Alsatian Committee for the Protection of the Rhine Plain : 15,000 people gathered at the later location on the Canal d'Alsace to prevent the construction project. In the course of the further resistance movement, the radio station Radio Verte Fessenheim (RVF), which was initially still broadcasting illegally , was established in 1977, which spoke out against the Fessenheim nuclear power plant and supported the opponents, as well as against the construction of the Wyhl nuclear power plant further north on the eastern side of the Upper Rhine in Baden . RVF later renamed itself Radio Dreyeckland (RDL).

In June 2005 some organizations and communities from Germany, France and Switzerland founded the Trinational Atomic Protection Association (TRAS, French L'Association trinationale de protection de la population des alentours de Fessenheim (ATPN) ). He has set himself the goal of decommissioning the reactors of the Fessenheim nuclear power plant by legal means. In the years that followed, opponents of nuclear power repeatedly voiced their concerns about the nuclear power plant. B. demanded in February 2007 the environmental protection organization Greenpeace its closure.

In March 2011 there was a demonstration from Neuchâtel on the Rhine to the Rhine island near Chalampé , in which up to 10,000 people took part. Then there were further rallies against the company with several thousand demonstrators each, including at the beginning of April on the Rhine island between Hartheim and the power plant, on Easter Monday at numerous German-Swiss and German-French Rhine bridges, in May 2011 in Freiburg on the Stühlinger Kirchplatz and in June of the same year - this time in the form of a human chain - again at the nuclear power plant itself. Shut down the Fessenheim Action Alliance. Now! continues to organize protests with numerous participants.

Official demands (selection)

In addition, official representatives, institutions, cities and municipalities increasingly formulated resolutions for the fastest possible shutdown in the wake of the explosions in Fukushima. B. the three Swiss cantons of Basel-Stadt , Basel-Land and Jura , the French region Franche-Comté and the Alsatian city of Strasbourg ; also in Germany the cities and communities Bad Bellingen , Breisach , Freiburg , Ettenheim , Lahr , Müllheim , Münstertal , Offenburg , Sasbach , Titisee-Neustadt and Umkirch .

On June 23, 2011, the incumbent First District Administrator of the Breisgau-Hochschwarzwald (D) district, Dorothea Störr-Ritter , presented the incumbent Energy Commissioner of the European Union , Günther Oettinger , with a resolution on decommissioning that was unanimously adopted by the Breisgau-Hochschwarzwald district council on May 9, 2011 of the nuclear power plant. At the end of July, the municipal administration association of Muellheim-Badenweiler joined this resolution . The Ortenau district also unanimously passed a resolution on the Fessenheim power plant on July 26, 2011, in which the permit for the extension of the service life was contested and a shutdown was requested.

In a letter to the incumbent French environment minister, her Baden-Württemberg counterpart demands that the same criteria be taken into account for the French stress test in Fessenheim due to "the cross-border environmental impact" as applied by the German Reactor Safety Commission for the inspection of the German reactors.

Officially promised and planned shutdown

In November 2011, the Parti Socialiste (PS) and the green party Europe Écologie-Les Verts (EELV) agreed to shut down 24 French nuclear power plants by 2025 or the share of nuclear power in electricity production of 75 in the event of a victory in the 2012 presidential elections to 50% in 2025: this would be a third of France's nuclear power capacity at the time. The Fessenheim nuclear power plant should be shut down immediately in the event of a left-wing election victory (see nuclear phase-out: France ). The PS candidate François Hollande confirmed this several times; The incumbent at the time, Nicolas Sarkozy , clearly spoke out in favor of continued operation several times (possibly with a total duration of up to 60 years, for example during a visit to the power plant in February 2012).

Hollande, now French President, announced four months after taking office on September 14, 2012 that the nuclear power plant would be shut down at the end of 2016, while all jobs should be preserved. In autumn 2012 he named a "decommissioning officer".

In mid-November 2014, the incumbent French Environment and Energy Minister Ségolène Royal only spoke of "two reactors to be shut down [in France]" as soon as the new construction of the European pressurized water reactor (EPR) at the Breton nuclear power plant Flamanville with two power plant units goes on line.

At the beginning of January 2015, Hollande confirmed the closure, but without a date; Preparations are in progress.

At the beginning of February 2015 there were announcements that two reactors at different nuclear power stations in France would possibly be shut down if the new French energy transition law comes into force in the second half of the year, i.e. not the two reactors in Fessenheim. Royal has given EdF the right to propose sites to be closed and reserves the right to consider the labor market. In response to a request from the German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks , she again confirmed the planned closure of the two blocks in Fessenheim.

In the middle of 2015, the French atomic safety authority Autorité de sûreté nucléaire (ASN) asked the EdF to comment immediately on the timing of the decommissioning and the planned course of action in this context.

On September 8, 2015, Ségolène Royal, Environment Minister in the Valls II cabinet , stated that the goal was to close Fessenheim in 2017; But there was also confusion about statements by Royal that the Fessenheim nuclear power plant should not be switched off until 2018, which the next day was more or less withdrawn to the effect that the decommissioning in 2016 would be “irreversibly initiated”.

At the end of September 2015, Hollande said in an interview that the two nuclear reactors in Fessenheim would not be shut down by the end of 2016 and would have to remain on the grid until 2018 due to the delayed completion of the EPR in Flamanville .

At the beginning of October 2015, Denis Baupin (Member of the French Greens and Vice-President of the French National Assembly ) pointed out that the operating license for the new EPR building in Flamanville would expire in spring 2018 and that the EdF would have to determine when in the operating license that was currently being applied for they - due to the nuclear power production capacity now capped at 63.2 GW in France - which reactors will shut down where. At the end of October, a possible shutdown of the two local reactors was officially confirmed for the first time by an incumbent power plant director in a meeting of the local monitoring commission: this was mentioned in the application of the EdF from the beginning of October to extend the operating license for Flamanville. Environment Minister Ségolène Royal then demanded, according to the French press, that the shutdown of the two reactors in Fessenheim must begin by the end of June 2016 at the latest.

On March 4, 2016, Süddeutsche Zeitung and WDR reported , citing their own research, that an incident in April 2014 (see 2014 ) was much more serious than previously known; the French nuclear regulatory authority ASN did not report essential factors of the incident to the IAEA.

After it became known that the state-owned Areva, as the builder of the power plant, had submitted false safety documents for parts of the plant, the nuclear regulatory authority issued a disconnection order for Block II on July 20, 2016.

In mid-June 2016, the EdF demanded an agreement on a indemnisation (compensation, indemnification, compensation) before the decommissioning of the Fessenheim NPP would begin. On August 24, 2016, the newspaper Le Monde reported that the state would pay EDF 400 million euros plus a variable sum that will depend, among other things, on future electricity prices. A decision to decommission should be implemented after the European pressurized water reactor EPR in Flamanville went online around the end of 2018. The decision could be reversed after the 2017 presidential election in France .

In January 2017, the EDF supervisory board decided to shutdown by 2018 in return for 446 million euros and further commitments.

On April 6, 2017, EdF decided to apply for the withdrawal of the operating license for the two nuclear reactors, probably in 2018 at the earliest. This meant that the French government could no longer 'put the shutdown of the Fessenheim nuclear power plant into a dry cloth' before the presidential election; Hollande's election promise before his election in May 2012 remained unfulfilled.

On April 9, 2017, a decree issued by Ségolène Royal was published in the French Official Gazette. The closure was made dependent on the commissioning of the Flamanville III plant; According to the decree, this should now take place by April 11, 2020 at the latest. Critics complained that a future French government could reverse the decree within a few months.

After the election of Emmanuel Macron as French President on May 14, 2017 and the inauguration of the Philippe II cabinet on June 21 of that year, there is no longer an Environment Minister in France; a “Ministry for the ecological and solidarity transition” was established under the ecologically oriented Nicolas Hulot . Macron had admitted to the planned shutdown in his election campaign. Hulot resigned in August 2018.

At the annual press conference of the French supervisory authority ASN 2017 in Strasbourg , its head urged that the decommissioning date be clarified because the ongoing uncertainty was likely to unsettle the workforce of the NPP; this is a security risk.

On October 25, 2018, the Council of State overturned Hollande's decree of April 2017. It followed resistance from the municipality of Fessenheim and the trade unions, including the CGT ( Confédération générale du travail ). They want to keep the jobs, which is questionable if the power plant were to shut down in 2022.

On November 27, 2018, French President Emmanuel Macron announced the shutdown of the Fessenheim nuclear power plant for 2020.

On February 1, 2019, French Environment Minister François de Rugy named March and August 2020 as the dates for the shutdown.

At a meeting with the Freiburg government president Bärbel Schäfer on September 26, 2019, the French State Secretary for the Environment Emmanuelle Wargon announced that reactor 1 would be shut down on February 1 and reactor 2 on June 30, 2020. On September 30, the Badische Zeitung reported that EDF had applied to the French Ministry of the Environment to revoke the operating license for Fessenheim. Reactor 1 should therefore be shut down on February 22nd, and reactor 2 on June 30th, 2020, regardless of the progress of construction of the EPR in Flamanville. According to its own information, EDF receives around CHF 400 million in compensation for the dismantling of the systems and for the professional reorientation of employees. Payments for lost profits may be added.

On September 30, 2019, EDF announced that Unit 1 would be closed on February 22, 2020 and Unit 2 on June 30, 2020.
The first reactor was finally shut down on February 22, 2020. The second reactor and thus the entire power plant finally went offline on the evening of June 29, 2020.

Operating license expires

After Block II had been shut down since mid-June 2016 due to the containment check in connection with incorrectly documented or delivered parts from Le Creusot , there was a possibility that the operating license for this block could expire if it was not operated for more than two years. This was interpreted by some as the “most diplomatic”, i.e. socio-economic and union-compatible solution for the path to final closure. Block I has also been idle since April 1, 2017, officially due to "maintenance work". At a press conference at the end of January 2018, EDF board member Philippe Sasseigne announced that the company had met all the requirements of the nuclear regulatory authority and was "confident" of being able to put Block II back into operation by March 15, 2018.

In March 2018, then Minister Nicolas Hulot announced that a schedule for the closure of Fessenheim would be presented in April 2018. Block II was put back into operation on April 4, 2018.


In the US thriller Dirty Harry III - The Inexorable from 1976, it is said that two bombs exploded at the Fessenheim power station.

See also

Web links

Commons : Fessenheim nuclear power plant  - collection of images, videos and audio files


Individual evidence

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