Living upstream versus downstream, from a nuclear power plant?

From what I understand, the Loire River flows from the south to the north… In other words, its source is in the mountains located southeast of the Loire valley. Among the items I keep in mind for choosing a property are 1) knowing how close it is to a nuclear power plant, and 2) whether it’s upstream of the flow of nearby running water sources that would be impacted.

Obviously there are perks for both people, and placement of nuclear power plants, when it comes to proximity to water sources. If Sancerre is upstream from Belleville-sur-Loire, then any discharged acqueous releases would flow downstream, so at least in this case, the ecology of the area of the river near Sancerre might be less impacted by it. No?

Two questions:

  1. Can anyone help me to confirm that the flow is south to north, and thus Sancerre is upstream rather than downstream from the nuclear power plant?
    I’ve not found a source or a document that confirms this. It may seem obvious, given that the source of the Loire is in the mountains and gravity obviously would make it so… I assume there would be (within regulation) acqueous releases from it into the Loire and there are strict regulations. Would it be okay to ask the mairie, or would this be a sore spot?

  2. Has this been a factor for your choice of location? When you’ve looked at properties near the Loire or other water source, do you take into consideration its proximity/relation to the nearest nuclear power plant(s): upstream versus downstream?

It’s probably always a good idea to be as far away as possible from a nuclear plant, and certainly upstream. The french take the environment of the rivers very seriously so it is unlikely that there would be any contamination, but (nuclear plant) accidents can and do happen, albeit rarely.

The Loire flows North from the central massif to Orleans, then west to the Atlantic


It would not be a factor in my choice of property, but maybe, having worked for UKAEA and BNFL at Sellafield and Calder Hall, maybe I don’t worry about it enough. What is worrying, I remember seeing, risks associated with radioactive contamination, being excluded from insurance cover:thinking:

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All my geography lessons at school told me that the Loire runs south to north up to Orléans, and then heads west to the sea. So yes, the nuclear plant is downstream of Sancerre. However, you could always go to the nuclear plant visitor centre at Belleville and ask them.

I have a friend who deliberately brought a house close to Sizewell. A) because it was a lovely house B) because it was affordable C) because she was surrounded by the bird sanctuary and unlikely to have new major development pop up and D) if something happened she was ok about the idea of it as emergency services would be focused there (or she wouldn’t know anything about it)


Don’t forget that the prevailing winds in the region are westerly so although the Loire runs to the west a neat line of centrales nucleaires running north to south means that airborne contamination could affect any area east of Angers. I’ve heard of the precautionary principle but this seems to go a little far in considering one’s location.

David, Interesting, about the westerly prevailing winds. Thanks!

Nuclear_plants_map_France.jpg (JPEG Image, 626 × 600 pixels).pdf (838.3 KB)

Hmmmm. So, east of Angers, okay… Checking for that, to see if I understand.

Regarding going a bit far, in considering one’s location. I’m not sure how to respond. I guess, maybe, in this case given all of the insidious stuff that is less overt, less easy to track, nuclear risks are to me more easily ‘plottable’ than others. So it seems important to be aware. Whether I make my decision ultimately, based on this one factor, well that’s another thing. It’s just part of the whole ball of wax, I suppose.

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As You say Mary, there are other factors, that could be hazardous that we are not aware of, regarding the wind, yes the wind in Wales/Scotland is predominantly Westerly, but sadly, wasn’t when the Chernobyl event occured, sadly, as a lot of Farmers discovered. The Law of Sod :roll_eyes:

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Something like this describes, then… “The Mistral blows mostly in spring and winter, but it does occur at times throughout the year and can last for anything from a day to over a week. Wind speeds of up to 90 miles per hour have been recorded.”

As I have found out sailing in the Med on many occasions, I was ‘Mistral Bound’ in Corsica once, for 9 days, an impressive ‘blow’ that was, amazing how it cooled down the sea water too!

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In Sancerre you do not have to worry about the Mistral.


You also need to consider flooding. The Loire is the last fleuve sauvage in France. Its flow is not controlled by dams and hydro schemes and when in spate it is immensely impressive and prone to over top its banks.


Spot on David, that would be a V Serious consideration :+1:

Dominic, that was exactly my concern. You’re so cool. Thx

David, exactement. Inondation. Fortunately I did consider that, and it was/is a very important factor. The property I’m considering, is on the top of the hill. Otherwise, if it was within the flood plain it would be a deal-breaker. Cheers.

Dominic, Would you let me know how you know this? I mean, is there a document that I can look at, about this? I want to find out about other communes’ exposure to the various winds, too, so I’m rather hopeful you might suggest a good source? Cheers

Update… I found this, what do you think?


Regarding ‘Westerly winds’… I found this that depicts prevailing winds worldwide :


Don’t want to be neg, but it’s not that simple Mary, :thinking:

Why not just buy the property that you want and can afford. Forget which way the wind blows or the water flows from the power stations … enjoy life !

Bill, I had this hunch you might indeed say that :slight_smile:

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The Mistral is a very specific wind that blows south down mainly the Rhone valley and into the Mediterranean. Sancere simply isn’t in an area affected by it. The only way that you will get to know the microclimate of the region that you are interested in is to try it and see. Even then, short term, you might not get the full picture. My area has been much wetter this winter than usual.
As you are considering moving a long way to find a new home you will have to make some decisions and some of those will be a gamble and others black and white. It’s usually much easier to buy property in France than to sell it so it’s best not to rush in. If you’re tempted by a pretty town rent a property there to try it out. If the house that you were first interested in isn’t still for sale nine months later, and there’s a strong possibility it still will be, you will personally have found other options which you wouldn’t have found sitting at a computer on another continent. If you have concerns about living too close to a nuclear power station don’t worry about river flow and wind direction, choose another town well away from the nearest one. I found an area of France that I liked the look of, saw a delightful stone house for sale and everything else fell into place. I’m concerned about the wind map you posted a link to, the area I often sail in is shown as having warm south-westerly winds. That is not correct. The prevailing winds there are northerly. Sometimes it’s easy to gather too much information that ends up being confusing, contradictory and unhelpful.