Life in the shadow of nuclear reactors, The small village of Saint-Vulbas has just a thousand inhabitants – 1962, three years before the construction of the nuclear power plant, but previously 263 inhabitants in this area. The power plant has brought jobs and relative prosperity , many of them have comfortable new houses. The inhabitants of Saint-Vulbas feel life next to the nuclear power station as extremely pleasant, says photographer Pugiotto. “Here life is better,” is a typical statement.
The Bugey Nuclear Power Plant is located in Bugey in the Saint-Vulbas commune, 75 km from the Swiss border. Life to the nuclear power plant guarantees privileges that others do not have – free energy and spacious homes with large gardens, and at very affordable prices.
The first reactor block from Bugey was put into operation in 1971, but has now been switched off. The four still active reactor blocks went into operation in 1979 and 1980 – and are to be switched off after 40 years. According to the plan, this is the end of 2020 with nuclear power generation in Saint-Vulbas.
Italian photographer Andrea Puggio, in the context of his photo-series” Vie chez la central ” which means” Life in the nuclear center, Life in the shadow of nuclear reactors, he spent about a week in the place to get to know people and life in a “quaint paradise”. In doing so, he conveys a conversation with one of the locals:
“We enjoy many privileges for which the rest of the population can only dream. And the risk is the same. Life is better here. “
As for the photographs, for the most common background, Andrea Pugiotto chooses recognizable and imposing cooling towers at the nuclear power plant, which produces steam released from excess heat in nuclear power plants. He says he wanted to tell a story with photographs that he does not need to explain in words. So, the photos are a blend of the famous rural / suburban idyll and the visually frightening presence of the nuclear power plant: people sunbathe in their yards or are cooled by their pools, children play, cows graze (and later they give milk that the local drink ) … It is a strong contrast to the security we are looking for and gives us the home, despite the potential risk of life in the nuclear center.
France has the reputation of a pronounced atomic nation – and this is not unfounded. The country has nuclear weapons, and more than 75 percent of the electricity is produced in nuclear power plants. Four of a total of 58 reactors are in operation at the Bugey nuclear power plant.
Nuclear power has also been very popular with the French over a long period of time – whether in military or civilian use. The atomic bomb secured France a global power position, in which power generation made it possible to avoid the use of dirty coal-fired power stations. But the stereotype of the nuclear-loving French is now wrong – in polls, as in Germany, a clear majority opposes the use of nuclear power.
But in the immediate vicinity of the Atomanic sites there is little trace of rejection or criticism. However, this should have less to do with the fact that nuclear power plants do not pollute the air of the environment with fine dust, which should be appreciated by athletes and walkers.
Rather, the reason for the satisfaction of the residents with the neighborhood of the nuclear power station is also the economic advantages. The power station does not only provide jobs, the inhabitants of Saint-Vulbas also get free electricity and a number of other perks , says the Italian photographer Andrea Pugiotto. “We enjoy many privileges that the rest of the population can only dream of,” Pugiotto cited the inhabitants.
The fact that people settle down in the immediate vicinity of a nuclear power plant and feel comfortable is, moreover, not a French specialty . Even in the highly atomic-critical Germany, property prices for nuclear power plants are at the usual level.
Moreover, when, after the nuclear catastrophe of Fukushima, seven German nuclear power plants were shut down with immediate effect, the property prices in the area fell by an average of eleven per cent – although it was now safer to live there. The reason: jobs are lost, the municipality loses commercial tax revenues, the purchasing power decreases. Thus, in the vicinity of nuclear power plants, the usual rules of the real estate market apply.
Family in Saint-Vulbas
The houses next to the Bugey nuclear power plant are favorable, the gardens huge. Apparently good arguments for young families . And parents let their children play in the immediate vicinity of the power plant without any reservations.
Wooden house, porthole windows, Floral Curtain – and views of the NPP
Bugey belongs with four reactors and an installed gross capacity totaling 3,724 megawatts to the larger nuclear power plants in France.
Garden idyl in front of the cooling tower of the Bugey nuclear power station
The village of Saint-Vulbas , where the inhabitants live so harmoniously next to one of the largest nuclear power plants in France, is, for example, comparable to the German Neckarwestheim . There, too, the population has risen sharply, since there has been a nuclear power station, the power station is very close to the place and the scenery is impressive. And also in Neckarwestheim, 15 kilometers south of Heilbronn, also idyllically located, the nuclear power plant also enjoys great approval.
Cattle at the Bugey nuclear power plant
There is little to be felt in the vicinity of the Lyon metropolitan area of fear or discomfort in the face of a potential accident in the nuclear power plant. The reactors were considered quite susceptible to a possible earthquake – at least before they were technically retrofitted. And in 2015 a scandal made headlines, according to which components of the pressure vessels of French reactors had deficiencies. One of the affected nuclear power plants: Bugey.
Source: Spiegel / Photogrist / News.uc.cn / Featureshoot / Wikipedia / Photos : Andrea Pugiotto