Contamination fears after leak from French nuclear waste plant
Thursday 10 July 2008
Nuclear authorities in France were scrambling to calm fears yesterday following a radioactive leak from a nuclear waste processing facility near the town of Bollène, in the Rhône valley.
Officials immediately enforced an emergency contingency plan in three villages surrounding the plant. A ban was placed on drinking water from private wells, swimming in rivers and irrigating fields. Eating fish caught in rivers has also been outlawed.
Initial reports from Socatri, the company that operates the plant, said that 30 cubic metres of fluid containing 12g per litre of low-grade uranium were spilt at the Tricastin facility near Marseilles. Socatri later said that only six cubic metres, or 75kg, had actually escaped from the site, which decontaminates waste from a uranium enrichment centre.
The incident, which happened on Monday night, was the result of "a faulty container", according to initial reports from the Institute of Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN). The liquid soaked into the ground and then passed into rainwater drains. The spill is 100 times the permitted annual quantity of radioactive effluent from the site.
Three rivers, including the Rhône, were contaminated. Experts said the risk to the public was low, despite indications that radioactivity levels were 1,000 times greater than World Health Organisation guidelines. "There is no immediate danger. But it will be important to monitor the water table," the IRSN said.
Anti-nuclear campaigners attacked the lack of transparency surrounding the spill as it emerged that Socatri took 12 hours to report it. "Elected politicians are dependent on information from people who are unelected and unaccountable, which is very worrying," said a spokesman from France Nature Environnement, the national federation of environmental organisations.
President Nicolas Sarkozy announced the construction of France's second European Pressurised Water Reactor (EPR) less than a week ago. However, concerns over the fabrication standards at Flamanville, where the first EPR station is being built, have already been raised.
- 1 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 2 Japanese island overrun with cats after population explodes
- 3 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 Average penis size revealed: Scientists attempt to find what is 'normal' to reassure concerned men
California teacher appears to have hanged herself in her classroom
The City of the Monkey God: Archaeologists claim to have found city lost for 1,000 years in remote Honduran jungle
Japanese island overrun with cats after population explodes
Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
Bubonic plague-carrying fleas found on New York City rats
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Exciting new position available at an independ...
£20000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The successful candidate will h...
£7800 - £13455 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A career opportunity has become ...