French Nuclear Plant Slow to Admit Leak

Nuclear power plantNuclear advocates often point to France as a success story, with 80% of the country's electricity coming from nuclear power. But a recent leak at the Tricastin plant in Bollene, near Avignon, has raised concerns about health, safety, and transparency. The site houses both a nuclear reactor and a radioactive treatment plant. "Approximately 30 cubic metres of liquid containing unenriched uranium spilled from an overflowing reservoir at the Tricastin facility, which handles liquids contaminated by uranium, into the ground and into the Gaffiere and Lauzon rivers." The public was not warned of the breach until the day after it occurred, nor was the government notified in a timely fashion. The French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) inspected the Tricastin plant after the leak and "found that existing prevention measures were deficient." Until more testing can be done, "People in nearby towns have been warned not to drink any water or eat fish from the rivers ... Officials have also cautioned people not to swim in the rivers or use their water to irrigate crops." An anti-nuclear non-governmental organization is planning legal action against the plant's operator, Societe Auxiliaire de Tricastin (Socatri), over its delay in informing the public.