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French Protests: Nuclear Power Strikes Add to Dire Fuel Shortage

Power Plant France

Strikes at all French nuclear power stations have added to the energy crisis in France, where one-third of France’s gas station ran out or ran low of petrol on Thursday, as mass protests against proposed labor reforms blocked roads and barred trucks’ access to oil depots and other sites, according to the French Union of Petroleum Industries.

Oil industry officials said the shortages could have been exacerbated by mass gasoline purchases by car owners unsure of future supplies.

BBC reported that the French government has begun using oil reserves to combat the shortage caused by events at six of the country’s eight oil refineries, but road blockages have restricted suppliers from reaching pumping stations.

Transportation Minister Alain Vidalies said 40 percent of stations in Paris “are struggling to get fuel.”

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Strikes also occurred in front of all of the European country’s nuclear power stations. Twelve of 19 stations said they had reduced output last night, but France’s power supply company, Reseau de Transport d’Electricite, said there was “no danger” of outages.

An estimated 100 protestors, who broke away from an organized march to break shop windows and attack parked cars, suffered the effects of tear gas fired by the police.

The demonstrations oppose a government reform that critics say would lead to “social dumping” as it would allow companies to opt out of national agreements regulating the firing of workers, vacation days, maternity leave and more.

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The largest union organizing the protests, the General Confederation of Labor (CGT), has accused the government of “aggression” against the demonstrators, who have had water cannons and other devices used on them over the past week.

The city of Corsica saw the protests’ first pickets against oil depots on Thursday. Many essential roads and bridges in Caen, Le Havre, Rouen, Toulouse and other cities had been partially or completely blocked by the demonstrations.

Finance Minister Michel Sapin and Socialist leader Bruno Le Roux suggested changing the clause regarding the national agreements, but Prime Minister Manuel Valls has rejected any such move.

President François Hollande issued a statement from Japan backing Valls earlier today.

By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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