Published: Wednesday 30 April 1997

Plans to convert the world's largest fast-breeder reactor Superphenix into a research centre and nuclear waste incinerator, may have to be shelved. Ruling on a lawsuit filed by several environmental groups, the Council of State, France's highest court, recently struck down a 1994 government order authorising operation of the nuclear plant for power generation and research. The court has ordered a fresh public inquiry before the reactor, which was shut down in December last year for renovation, can restart. Since 1986, Superphenix has worked at full capacity (1200 MW) for only 10 months and has suffered two leakages of liquid sodium.

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