France's EDF to close Fessenheim nuclear plant next year

FILE PHOTO: An EDF worker is seen on the construction site of the third-generation European Pressurised Water nuclear reactor (EPR) in Flamanville, France, November 16, 2016. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

PARIS (Reuters) - French power group EDF EDF.PA said it planned to shut the country's oldest nuclear plant in Fessenheim earlier than planned and that the French state would make an initial compensation payment of around 400 million euros ($438 million).

EDF said on Monday it would shut the Number 1 reactor of its Fessenheim nuclear power plant on Feb. 22, 2020 and the Number 2 reactor on June 30. The shutdowns had previously been scheduled for March 2020 and the summer of 2020.

The French state owns 83.7% of EDF.

The Fessenheim plant in northeastern France was commissioned in 1978, and it had been earmarked for closure as EDF focused on more modern nuclear power plants.

EDF this month announced welding problems at some of its nuclear reactors and extra costs at the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant in Britain.

France’s environment minister on Monday criticised EDF over the various delays and problems with its nuclear power business, echoing similar critiques of EDF made by French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire.

“EDF needs to be held accountable,” Environment Minister Elisabeth Borne told RTL radio.

Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Benoit Van Overstraeten; editing by Darren Schuettler and David Evans