Third nuclear incident in France contaminates 100 staff

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Around 100 employees at the Tricastin nuclear plant in southern France's Vaucluse region were slightly contaminated.

24 July 2008
PARIS - French environmentalists sounded the alarm Thursday after the third incident this month at a nuclear plant left 100 employees contaminated.

"This new incident shows that nuclear energy ... remains a dangerous, polluting and poorly controlled energy," a spokesman for environmental group Greenpeace told AFP.

Around 100 employees at the Tricastin nuclear plant in southern France's Vaucluse region were "slightly contaminated" Wednesday by radioactive particles that escaped from a pipe, according to the EDF power firm.

It said the workers were exposed to radiation far below permitted levels, and were able to return home after undergoing medical checks.

Officials at the site said the incident would have no consequences for either the workers or the environment and that it was rated at level zero on the seven-point scale to gauge the seriousness of nuclear accidents.

On 8 July, people living near the Tricastin site were told not to drink water or eat fish from nearby rivers after liquid uranium from the nuclear plant polluted the local water supply.

On 18 July nuclear safety authorities said a broken pipe at another nuclear fuel plant in southeast France had caused a radioactive leak but no damage to the environment.

After that incident French nuclear safety authorities and the nuclear group Areva admitted that security for nuclear power in France needed revamping.

Ecology Minister Jean-Louis Borloo said he wanted to review all security measures in the nuclear industry, carry out tests on the ground water near all reactors and assess the state of waste storage sites.

France is home to the world's second largest network of nuclear reactors after the United States and the facilities generate more than 80 percent of its electricity.

[AFP / Expatica]

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