France authorities shut down nuclear reactors due to drought

France authorities shut down nuclear reactors due to drought
The Chooz reactor in Ardennes has been temporarily put to a halt due to drought. Photo: AFP
The French government has shut down two nuclear reactors after weeks of drought made the cooling process too difficult to manage.

The two reactors, both located in Ardennes in the northeastern region of Grand Est, were brought to a halt on Friday and Monday.

“The planning and the duration of the stop caused by environmental difficulties will be reassessed according to the weather forecast,” French state energy firm EDF stated.

Nuclear reactors consume large amounts of water to cool down and during drought periods this process is difficult to maintain, which sometimes sees France close down reactors for periods of time.

France has struggled with drought this summer, intensified by two heatwaves that lingered over the country for weeks, pushing temperatures up towards 40C in many parts of the country.

Seventy-nine départements have some form of water restriction in place, according to the French environment ministry drought map, updated on August 24th.

Map: Propluvia, Environment Ministry

There are three levels of water restriction in place.

If you live in a yellow zone then this means restrictions will be in place at certain times over watering the garden or washing the car. Golf courses and public green spaces such as parks will have restrictions at certain times and farmers have water restrictions in place up to three days a week.

If you live in an orange zone farmers will face restrictions for at least half of the week, while car washing and garden watering are subject to strict controls -including a total ban – at all times, along with water golf courses or parks.

If you live in a red zone water use is only allowed for priority reasons – drinking, health reasons or civil security reasons while farmers also face bans on use.

The exact nature of the restrictions is decided at préfecture level, so if you live in a département with restrictions in place, head to your local préfecture’s website to find out exactly what you can and cannot do.

French vocab

Sécheresse – drought

Restrictions d’eau – water restrictions

Des mesures d’économie d’eau – Water saving measures

Usages prioritaires – Priority usage

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