The Competition Authority has imposed financial sanctions on six companies suspected of colluding in the dismantling operations of nuclear sites in Marcoule, Gard, amounting to a total of €31 million, as announced on the authority's website on Thursday, September 7th.

These companies operate in the sector of services related to engineering, maintenance, dismantling, and nuclear waste treatment. The fines were determined based on the seriousness of the infractions: Nuvia was fined €13.9 million, Endel (now a subsidiary of Altrad) €11 million, BCEN €6.2 million, SNEF €20,000, and SPIE €10,000. In total, the fines amount to €31.239 million.

ONET benefited from a "leniency procedure" by disclosing the existence of the collusion to the authority and providing information during the investigation, which allowed it to avoid sanctions.

The authority accuses these companies of exchanging confidential information in order to respond to calls for tenders from the French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) for various installations at the Marcoule nuclear site, with the aim of agreeing on price levels to offer and dividing the markets among themselves. These anticompetitive practices were organized in a structured manner and kept secret, with some companies even using personal email addresses or those belonging to their family members.

These infractions are considered among the most serious in terms of competition since they seek to deprive consumers and public entities of the expected benefits of a competitive market. Dismantling nuclear sites represents a colossal market, with an estimated cost of €46.4 billion by the end of 2018, according to a report by the Court of Auditors in 2020.

This decision by the Competition Authority sends a clear message that such anticompetitive practices will not be tolerated, highlighting the importance of maintaining fair and equitable competition, even in sensitive sectors like the nuclear industry.