France may soon have to ration electricity, because the record-breaking summer heat is forcing the temporary closure of nuclear power plants. French nuclear plants are cooled by river water, which is pumped back into the rivers after it flows around the reactor towers. But the reactors are so hot that the coolant water heats up to over 85 degrees—far too warm to return to the rivers without killing the fish. “There’s no more room to maneuver,” said Industry Minister Nicole Fontaine. “It’s essential that citizens be ready to accept the consequences.” France relies on nuclear power to supply 80 percent of its electricity. The heat wave that has baked much of Western Europe has claimed more than 100 lives in the Paris area alone.
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