French Presidential candidate Jacques Cheminade yesterday visited the nuclear power plant in Fessenheim, Alsace, near the German border. There has been a huge controversy over this plant, France's oldest nuclear power plant, built in 1977, because the Agency for Nuclear Safety concluded at the end of 2011 that it was sufficiently safe and modernized to run for 60 years altogether, rather than the 30-year lifetime originally scheduled.
During his visit, Cheminade first met with the plant director for about one hour, and then held an exchange with trade unionists for another hour, before visiting the non-nuclear part of the site. One trade unionist said it was "the first time he had ever heard a candidate speak about fourth-generation nuclear energy."
At the press conference following his visit, Cheminade said he thought the plant should not be shut down, provided that at the same time the needed research and development is being carried out on the future forms of nuclear energy, such as the fourth-generation reactors, which are even safer and work better.
He was quoted by AFP and many newspapers, saying that "nuclear energy and space seem to be outside reality to some people. But for me, that is reality, which means to explore wherever man is able to, to understand and master natural phenomena."