Water management: key to environmental protection and safety
Water is crucial to the operation of nuclear power plants. It is used to cool the reactors and ensure their safety. Good water management is therefore a key focus for EDF. Whether it is taken from the sea, a river or groundwater, its use is regulated and monitored by the public authorities. With growing water scarcity, we see it as our duty to optimise the performance of every drop of water used in our facilities.
Water, a crucial resource for cooling our power plants
In a nuclear power plant, water is necessary to:
Cool the facilities (most of the withdrawals serve this purpose)
Top up feed water and create safety stocks
Supply fire fighting systems
Supply employee restrooms and cafeterias
After use, and depending on the procedures set out in the regulatory documents for each power plant1, this water is:
Collected in special tanks (“cooling ponds”)
Treated if need be
Lastly, discharged to the environment
This stringently regulated process aims to minimise wastewater radioactivity and therefore its impact on the environment. When built, each nuclear power plant is covered by a decree authorising its construction (DAC) and a number of regulatory permits designed to protect the environment.
of the water collected by all of our nuclear plants is returned to the source
of the water is drawn from the sea or an estuary, without restrictions on its availability
7.5billion cubic metres
of water are managed in France by EDF (i.e. 75 % of the country’s artificial storage reserves)
Integrated water management for each catchment area
Water is a common good that we must share with a wide variety of users. Given the importance of water for our nuclear power plants, we have included it in our risk management policy.
We are members of the local and national consultation bodies – catchment area committees, river basin agencies, local water committees, etc. – set up by the public authorities.