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Nuclear Energy



Posted online in March 2013

This is the 19th report in the CNRS/sagascience scientific multimedia series.

Web design and production
the sagascience/CNRS Communications Department team
Jean-Marc Dumas, Christine Girard, Sylvie Langlois CNRS/sagascience team
Report produced in cooperation with the IN2P3 (National Institute of Nuclear and Particle Physics, CNRS) - Alex Mueller, Patrick Chardon, Arnaud Marsollier, Anna Thibeau

Texts by
Parts 1 and 2 : Christine Girard and Sylvie Langlois, CNRS/sagascience team
Part 3 : Mathieu Grousson, science journalist
Part 4 : Clara Delpas, science journalist

Translation manager: Valerie Herczeg
Translator: David Jaggard

Iconographic research
parts 3 and 4 : Stéphanie Tritz

Music
Barakazik (Delay's)
Narration
Nick Storey
Sound engineer
Thomas Huguet

Bibliographic sources are available on the French online version

Scientific validation:
Charles-Olivier Bacri, CNRS senior researcher, Nuclear Physics Institute (University of Paris 11/CNRS), Orsay.
Part 1 - Radioactivity
Texts by: Sylvie Langlois - Validation : Stéphane Roudeau, CNRS research engineer, Bordeaux Gradignan Nuclear Studies Center (University of Bordeaux 1/CNRS).
Part 2 - Nuclear energy
Texts by: Christine Girard and Sylvie Langlois
Validation :
Text of spoken commentary: Hubert Flocard, consultant at the I2EN; Sylvain David, CNRS researcher, Nuclear Physics Institute (University of Paris 11/CNRS), Orsay.
Texts "How does a nuclear power plant work?"; "Operating and decommissioning uranium mines"; "Nuclear agencies: Who does what?"; "Nuclear waste management "; "The nuclear fuel cycle"; "Costs of the different electrical production methods": Sylvain David.
Text "Radiological protection" : Cyril Thieffry, CNRS research engineer, IN2P3 (National Institute of Nuclear and Particle Physics, CNRS).
Text "Environmental monitoring and measurements" : Patrick Chardon ,CNRS research engineer, Laboratory for Subatomic Physics and Associated Technologies (University of Nantes/Ecole des Mines de Nantes/CNRS), Nantes.
Text "The dismantling of nuclear power plants" : Abdel Mjid Nourreddine, university professor, Hubert Curien Pluridisciplinary Institute (University of Strasbourg 1/CNRS) and Addil Sellam, CNRS engineer, Hubert Curien Pluridisciplinary Institute (University of Strasbourg 1/CNRS).
Text "Costs of the different electrical production methods " : Sylvain David.
Part 3 - Social aspects of nuclear energy
Texts by: Clara Delpas
Validation :
Text of spoken commentary: Yannick Barthe, CNRS researcher, Center for the Sociology of Innovation, Paris; Sandra Laugier, university professor, CURAPP (University Research Center on Public Action and Policy). Epistemology and Social Sciences (University of Picardie Jules Verne, Amiens) and CNRS/Institute for Humanities and Social Science; Claire Sergeant, CNRS researcher, Bordeaux Gradignan Nuclear Studies Center; Sylvain David, CNRS researcher, Nuclear Physics Institute (University of Paris 11/CNRS), Orsay.
Text "The environmental and human consequences of nuclear accidents" : Claire Sergeant, CNRS researcher, Bordeaux Gradignan Nuclear Studies Center.
Texts "The time factor in decision-making" and "Nuclear power and sustainable development" : Yannick Barthe, CNRS researcher, Center for the Sociology of Innovation, Paris; Sandra Laugier, university professor, CURAPP (University Research Center on Public Action and Policy). Epistemology and Social Sciences (University of Picardie Jules Verne, Amiens) and CNRS/ Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences.
Texts "Power plant safety"; "Nuclear accidents: causes and lessons" : Sylvain David, CNRS researcher, Nuclear Physics Institute (University of Paris 11/CNRS), Orsay.
Text "The NEEDS challenge" : Sylvain David, CNRS researcher, Nuclear Physics Institute (University of Paris 11/CNRS), Orsay; Bernd Grambow, university professor, Laboratory for Subatomic Physics and Associated Technologies (University of Nantes/Ecole des Mines de Nantes/CNRS), Nantes.
Text "Human safety" : Sylvain David, CNRS researcher, Nuclear Physics Institute (University of Paris 11/CNRS), Orsay ; Bernd Grambow, university professor, Laboratory for Subatomic Physics and Associated Technologies (University of Nantes/Ecole des Mines de Nantes/CNRS), Nantes. Romain Garcier, university lecturer on the environment, urban centers and society (University of Lyon 2/University of Lyon 3/Jean Monnet University, Saint Etienne/INSA Lyon/ENTPE Lyon/CNRS/ENS Lyon/Ecole des Mines de St Etienne).
Text "Public perception of nuclear power and opinion surveys" : Sylvain David, CNRS researcher, Nuclear Physics Institute (University of Paris 11/CNRS), Orsay; Yannick Barthe, CNRS researcher, Center for the Sociology of Innovation, Paris.
Part 4 - New production technologies
Texts by: Mathieu Grousson
Validation :
Text of spoken commentary: Sylvain David, CNRS researcher, Nuclear Physics Institute (University of Paris 11/CNRS), Orsay; Daniel Heuer, CNRS senior researcher, Laboratory for Subatomic Physics and Cosmology (University of Grenoble 1/CNRS/Grenoble Institute of Technology); Annick Billebaud, CNRS senior researcher, Laboratory for Subatomic Physics and Cosmology (University of Grenoble 1/CNRS/Grenoble Institute of Technology).
Texts "EPR: Renewing the nuclear infrastructure", "Fast reactors: A new horizon for nuclear power?" and "Fusion: The Holy Grail of nuclear power?" : Sylvain David, CNRS researcher, Nuclear Physics Institute (University of Paris 11/CNRS), Orsay.
Texts "Will thorium ever replace uranium?"and "The geological storage of nuclear waste: A long-term solution?" : Daniel Heuer, CNRS senior researcher, Laboratory for Subatomic Physics and Cosmology (University of Grenoble 1/CNRS/Grenoble Institute of Technology)
Text "GUINEVERE: Toward the transmutation of nuclear wast " : Annick Billebaud,CNRS senior researcher, Laboratory for Subatomic Physics and Cosmology (University of Grenoble 1/CNRS/Grenoble Institute of Technology).

Credits and captions for animation illustrations

Introduction :
Wikimedia Commons : Henri Becquerel; Fermi’s atomic pile; map showing the locations of the world’s nuclear power plants; a "bomb" (pressure vessel) containing uranium halide and sacrificial metal, probably magnesium, being lowered into a furnace (Manhattan Project, photo from The Ames Laboratory, USDOE); 20 December 1951: four lightbulbs powered by electricity generated by the EBR-1, the first reactor to produce usable electricity, photo from the USDOE. 

Part 1: Radioactivity
Wikimedia Commons : Boulevard Montmartre in Paris, Camille Pissaro; Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen; a Crookes tube; X-ray of Anna Bertha Ludwig’s hand; Henri Poincaré; the Institut de France; Antoine-Henri Becquerel; a collection of fluorescent minerals under ultraviolet light; Röntgen’s laboratory; the Eiffel Tower; the sun in the clouds; Becquerel in his laboratory; a photographic plate by Henri Becquerel showing the effects of exposure to radioactivity; Pierre, Marie and Irène Curie; Pierre and Marie Curie in their laboratory, illustration by André Castaigne; polonium; radium needles; beta radiation; Pierre Curie; caricature of Pierre and Marie Curie; “miraculous” properties and uses of radioactivity in everyday life; the 1904 Saint Louis World's Fair in Missouri; Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) at the CERN; proton-antiproton collision in the CERN Super Proton Synchrotron; simulation of a Higgs boson decaying in the CERN CMS; Ernest Rutherford; James Chadwick; Enrico Fermi; Lise Meitner and Otto Hahn; Frédéric Joliot; atomic blast in Yucca Flat, Nevada, 1951; Fermi’s atomic pile, the first nuclear reactor, at Stagg Field, University of Chicago.

Other sources
photos from the Ecole Polytechnique Central Library: glass tubes containing uranium salts used in Becquerel’s first device and silhouette of a Maltese cross produced in his second experiment; CNRS Audiovisual: Pierre Curie's arm burned after ten hours of exposure to radium salt; ACJC: Frédéric and Irène Joliot-Curie in their laboratory; Pierre and Marie Curie on their wedding day in 1896, Emilio Segre Visual Archives ©American Institute of Physics, photo by Fritz Strassmann.

Part 2 : Nuclear energy
ASN (Nuclear Safety Authority) : map showing nuclear power plant locations in France.

CNRS/photo library : reaction chamber of the CORSET detector for studying fission reactions (photo: C. Munch).

CNRS/sagascience : illustration of the nuclear fuel cycle.

EDF media library : the Chinon nuclear power plant, using natural uranium gas-graphite technology, 1962 (photo: Studio Decker); technician in the Chinon nuclear power plant, using natural uranium gas-graphite technology, 1967 (photo: P. Berenger); aerial view of the Dampierre-en-Burly nuclear power plant with its four production units (photo: M. Didier); aerial view of the Nogent-sur-Seine nuclear power plant (photo: M. Monteaux); the Chinon nuclear power plant, using natural uranium gas-graphite technology, 1967 (photo: P. Berenger); the Flamanville 3 EPR under construction in May 2007 (photo: A. Morin); pipes marked for demolition at the Bugey 1 nuclear power plant (photo: B. Conty); the SUPERPHENIX breeder reactor in Creys-Malville; the PHENIX breeder reactor's machine room; packing wastes in vinyl bags during the demolition of Unit A of the Chooz power plant (photo: C. Helsly); identification of wastes during the demolition of Unit A of the Chooz power plant (photo: C. Helsly); worker carrying a bag of wastes by a wall of lead mats during the demolition of Unit A of the Chooz power plant (photo: C. Helsly); demolition of Unit A of the Chooz power plant (photo: C. Helsly); plenary meeting of the nuclear fuel community in October 2011 (photo: A. Sperber); new fuel assemblies arriving at the Saint-Alban nuclear power plant (photo: D. Charfeddine); rods in a fuel assembly for the production of MOX fuel, Melox plant at the Marcoule site (photo: P. Landmann).

Google Maps : view of the Pierrelatte uranium enrichment plant; the Georges Besse II centrifuge separation unit at the Tricastin site; the Brennilis nuclear power plant, now being dismantled.  

Wikimedia Commons : Pierre and Marie Curie in their laboratory (1906); a passer-by finding out about petrol rationing during the first oil crisis in 1974; coal-bearing shale; the Kern River oilfield (California, USA); lignite mine in operation in Germany; an oil drilling platform in the North Sea; Toronto by night; combat troops on parade during the Liberation of Paris, August 1944 (Library of Congress, Farm Security Administration, Office of War Information Collection); General Charles de Gaulle; Georges Pompidou in 1973 (White House Photo Office, photo by Oliver F. Atkins); the Tricastin nuclear power plant (by Sancio83); overview of the Chinon plant; illustration of the EPR (document courtesy of Framatome ANP, Germany); construction site of the Olkiluoto EPR in Finland, April 2005 (document courtesy of Framatome ANP, Germany); Units A1 and A2 of the Saint-Laurent-des-Eaux nuclear power plant (by Clicgauche); the Cour des Comptes public audit authority in Paris; the Brno conference; antinuclear demonstration in Colmar, France, in October 2009; antinuclear demonstration in Paris, 20 March 2011, following the accident at the Fukushima nuclear site in Japan; antinuclear demonstration in Kiev (Ukraine) in 2010; nuclear fuel pellets; gas-powered centrifuges for uranium enrichment at the Piketon nuclear power plant (Ohio, USA); the PHENIX breeder reactor at the Marcoule site; the immediate surroundings of the Bure underground research laboratory (France); red hoisting buckets used to remove rubble during the excavation of the Bure underground research laboratory (France); gallery of the Bure underground research laboratory (France).

DR : a miner at work (1958) in the Forez region, mining zone of La Crouzille (France); the Forez region before 1959, La Crouzille (France); ore train (1966) at a mine in the Forez region, mining zone of La Crouzille (France); masks against drilling dust (1957) at a mine in the Forez region, mining zone of La Crouzille (France); pillar extraction by sublevel caving (1966) at a mine in the Forez region, mining zone of La Crouzille (France) (photos courtesy of Areva).

Part 3: Social aspects of nuclear energy
Associated Press : aerial photo of the Fukushima nuclear power plant before the tsunami of March 2011.

Claire Sergeant : Chernobyl, the sarcophagus covering Reactor N° 4, photo taken in October 2008 (Ukraine); Prypiat, remnants of the 1986 May Day fair, photo taken in October 2010 (Ukraine); yard of a destroyed house in the town of Chernobyl, photo taken in October 2008 (Ukraine).

EDF media library: Dampierre-en-Burly nuclear power plant (central France), photo: Didier Marc; interior of the Bugey nuclear power plant (eastern France), photo: Jean-Luc Petit; an IRSN inspection team in the nuclear waste storage zone at Fessenheim (northeastern France), photo: Jean-Lionel Dias; storage compartment for type A nuclear waste in Fessenheim (northeastern France), photo: Jean-Lionel Dias; chemical laboratory at the Flamanville site (northwestern France) during the shutdown of Unit 2, photo: Philippe Eranian.

IAEA PRIS Database: worldwide distribution of nuclear power plants. 

IRSN : IRSN engineers collecting water samples downstream from the Pierrelatte nuclear site (southeastern France), photo: Noak/Le bar Floréal/IRSN; Téléray radiation sensor on the roof of the Hôtel de la Marine in Paris photo: Arnaud Bouissou/MEDDTL/IRSN; radon detector used to measure the concentration of the gas in the soil, photo: Olivier Seignette/Mikaël Lafontan/IRSN; IRSN mobile anthroporadiametry laboratory monitoring contamination of exposed personnel at the Larrey University Hospital, photo: Noak/Le bar Floréal/IRSN; medical radiologist with a dosimeter at Trousseau Hospital, photo: Philippe Castano/IRSN; processing samples at the LERCM (Laboratory for Continental and Marine Radioecological Studies) in La Seyne-sur-Mer, photo: Laurent Zylberman/Graphix-Images/IRSN; Low doses: study of uranium isotope distribution at the cellular level; shown here: oven polymerization of the resin coating of a sample taken from the kidney of a rat contaminated in the laboratory, photo: Noak/Le bar Floréal/IRSN; microscopic view of the stage of development of zebrafish (Danio rerio) eggs at the LRE (Radioecology and Ecotoxicology Laboratory), photo: Olivier Seignette/Mikaël Lafontan/IRSN. 

Photo Libre (www.photo-libre.fr) : crowd.

Wikimedia Commons : the Kewaunee nuclear power plant, Wisconsin (USA); barrels of bitumen from Trinidad unloaded in Brisbane by the freighter Larchbank in 1938, Queensland Newspapers Pty Ltd; well in the South Belridge oil field, California (USA); Cattenom nuclear power plant (northeastern France), photo: Stefan Kühn; nuclear power plant and mill in Doel (Belgium), photo: Friedrich Tellberg; a gas station in Iceland, 2007, photo: Maccanti; map showing the distribution of nuclear power plants in France; a refinery in Oxnard, California (USA); the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, Pennsylvania (USA); cleanup operations after the accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant, photo: John G. Kemeny et al.; Goldsboro, Pennsylvania, a town near the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant (USA); "We Survived TMI" sign, Middletown, Pennsylvania (USA); a view of the Chernobyl site from Prypiat (Ukraine); aerial photo of the Fukushima nuclear power plant taken in 1975, Japan Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport; the Fukushima nuclear plant after the 2011 accident, photo: Digital Globe; Sany concrete pump deployed to Fukushima after the accident, photo: Jorge Rodriguez; tourists near the Chernobyl power plant in March 2011 (Ukraine), photo: VOA D. Markosian; a Geiger counter recording radioactivity in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, November 2011; evacuees from Koriyama after the Fukushima accident, 16 March 2011, photos: Steve Herman; roadblock in the town of Kashiwa, 200 kilometers south of Fukushima, to bar access to an area polluted by fallout from the accident, photo taken on 18 February 2012, photo: Abasaa; abandoned city center district of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, 12 April 2011, photo: L. Herman; yellow drum of radioactive wastes, photo: Prolineserver; dry cask storage of nuclear waste, photo: NRC; spent nuclear fuel stored underwater and uncapped in Hanford's K-East Basin, Hanford nuclear site, Washington State (USA), photo: USDOE; CASTOR (cask for storage and transport of radioactive material) in Dannenberg, Lower Saxony (Germany), photo: Dennis140; nuclear waste container coming out of Nevada Test Site (USA), photo: Bill Ebbesen; freight train shipping nuclear waste from France to Germany, photo: Atomnix; the Bugey nuclear power plant in eastern France, photo: Jess & Peter; road sign announcing restricted traffic on Route 6 in Hirono, Fukushima Prefecture (Japan), photo: Hohoho; the European Parliament in session, photo: JLogan; antinuclear rally at Meiji Shrine Outer Garden in Tokyo, 19 September 2011; antinuclear demonstration in Paris, 20 March 2011, photo: Perline; Buddhist monks protesting against nuclear power near the National Diet of Japan in Tokyo, 5 April 2011; human chain against nuclear power in Stuttgart, 12 March 2011, photo: Michael Mies; a Ukrainian tourist on a group tour of the Chernobyl site, photo: VOA D. Markosian; radioactivity warning sign on a hill in the Red Forest near the Chernobyl site (Ukraine), photo: Timm Suess; antinuclear demonstration in the Hofgarten, Bonn (Germany), 14 October 1979, photo: Hans Weingartz; the Institut de France in Paris (France), photo: Rmashhadi.


Part 4 : New production technologies
ANDRA : Artist’s rendering of the planned industrial center for the geological storage of high-activity and medium-activity long-lived nuclear waste (Cigéo; animation of the handling mechanism for the underground storage of waste packages in cells.

Areva: aerial view of the reprocessing plant at the La Hague site in France (photo: J. M. Taillat); transfer for storage of vitrified wastes at the La Hague reprocessing plant (photo: J. M. Taillat); storage pool at the La Hague reprocessing plant (photo: P. Lesage); MOX fuel assembly (photo: E. Larrayadieu).

CEA : dry production (milling, pressing, sintering and sheathing) of test fuels, transmutation targets and containment matrices – view of two reinforced pressure vessels – CEA Marcoule (A. Gonin/CEA); dry production (milling, pressing, sintering and sheathing) of test fuels, transmutation targets and containment matrices – filling of the pressing mold – CEA Marcoule (A. Gonin/CEA).

CNRS/sagacience : panoramic view of high tension lines; panoramic view of the La Hague reprocessing plant; illustration of a uranium mine; illustration of deep underground waste storage.

EDF photo library : aerial view of the Dampierre-en-Burly nuclear power plant with its four production units (photo: M. Didier); panoramic view of the cooling towers of the Bugey power plant (photo: L. Vautrin); photos of the Flamanville EPR construction site (photos A. Morin): east-west overview; north-south overview; overhead view, assembling the formwork for a storage pool in the reactor building; pumping station (foreground) and machine room (background); welding of secondary pipelines in the machine room; installing the extraction pump in its tank in the machine room; one of the exchangers for transferring heat between two fluids connected to the intermediate cooling circuit in a backup building; the machine room.

ITER organization : exploded view of the future ITER Tokamak; future scientific installation and headquarters of the ITER project; artist’s rendering of the ITER site. The large orange building in the middle is the Tokamak hall; the poloidal field coils will be produced in the long building on the right.

Wikimedia Commons : cover of Le Vingtième Siècle ou la Vie Électrique (“The 20th Century: The Electrical Life”) by Albert Robida – 1890; uranium ore.

Other sources : map of France’s nuclear infrastructure indicating the age and power output of the 58 reactors currently in operation (according to the Observatoire de l'Electricité, 2011); map of uranium reserves in 2007 (source: OECD/IAEA – 2007 Red Book).



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