“PARIS — Plumes of steam towered above two reactors recently at the Chinon nuclear power plant in the heart of France’s verdant Loire Valley. But the skies above a third reactor there were unusually clear — its operations frozen after the worrisome discovery of cracks in the cooling system.
The partial shutdown isn’t unique: Around half of France’s atomic fleet, the largest in Europe, has been taken offline as a storm of unexpected problems swirls around the nation’s state-backed nuclear power operator, Électricité de France, or EDF.
As the European Union moves to cut ties to Russian oil and gas in the wake of Moscow’s war on Ukraine, France has been betting on its nuclear plants to weather a looming energy crunch. Nuclear power provides about 70 percent of France’s electricity, a bigger share than any other country in the world.”