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CONCLUSION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . WORK IS AT THE CORE OF NUCLEAR ENERGY

Subcontracting maintenance work is the means that the nuclear industry has chosen to make it seem that it is possible to reconcile two contradictory aims. Those contradictory aims are ensuring installation safety and the safety of workers responsible for the human labor that is indispensable to running those installations; and keeping nuclear energy competitive by making maximum use of nuclear facilities while ensuring that the maintenance tasks required to produce nuclear energy are performed during minimum-length unit shutdown periods. Through a longitudinal survey in the form of interviews with “outside” workers in the French nuclear industry and a study of the social organization of labor and radiation protection, this book has sought to present the social conditions in which this work is done and their impact on the health of these workers and nuclear safety at large. The major obstacle to our research was the social invisibility of this composite “underside” of nuclear energy production. The study nonetheless allows for identifying what is at issue for public health, and indicating future research avenues that should be given priority.