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    Uranium Leaks Rattle France's Nuclear Support, Anger Villagers

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    sang_garuda
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    Uranium Leaks Rattle France's Nuclear Support, Anger Villagers

    Post by sang_garuda on Fri Jul 25, 2008 10:19 am

    For years, Sophie Delmas took her horse and her four dogs for a swim in the Trop-Long lake, a stone's throw away from the Tricastin nuclear site in southeast France. Not anymore.

    About 74 kilograms (163 pounds) of uranium leaked two weeks ago from a nuclear waste plant owned by Areva SA at the site behind her mother's home in Bollene. Tests showed that the ground water was contaminated even before the leak. On July 18, Paris-based Areva announced a second case, saying uranium may have seeped out of a broken pipe for years at a plant in Roman- sur-Isere, 100 kilometers (62 miles) north of Bollene.

    ``Who knows, there may be nuclear waste under the house,'' said Delmas, 23, who says she's concerned that she and her animals may be susceptible to cancer.

    The leaks are shaking French people's long-held faith in nuclear safety in their country, which gets more than 80 percent of its electricity from atomic power -- the highest in the world. The incidents come just days after President Nicolas Sarkozy announced the construction of the country's 60th reactor to show that France is leading a global revival in nuclear usage.

    ``The incidents were a painful wakeup call for many,'' said Roland Desbordes, chairman of Valence-based radioactivity research association CRIIRAD. ``They brought to the fore the risks of nuclear power, which French people had forgotten, and highlighted the weaknesses of control and alert procedures.''

    Lost Faith

    Sarkozy is promoting French nuclear technology in Libya, the United Arab Emirates and Tunisia. He's also weighing options to help state-owned Areva, the world's largest reactor builder, raise funds to expand.

    Public opposition hasn't been an issue in France as the government built a network of 58 reactors -- with another under construction -- in three decades.

    That may change. While two-thirds of the French want nuclear power to ``ensure energy independence,'' according to an IFOP poll published July 21 in Le Monde, 81 percent said the Tricastin leak was ``serious'' and 70 percent don't trust the government to alert them to the risks.

    In Bollene, where the medieval town's 14,000 inhabitants have lived in the shadow of one of France's oldest nuclear plants for 30 years, some residents say their trust in the safety of the site, the town's main employer, has been eroded.

    Breached Levels

    Delmas's 50-year-old mother Elisabeth Serinian and two other families have filed a lawsuit. Tests on one of Serinian's wells showed 70 micrograms of uranium per liter on July 9, the state radio-protection agency, IRSN, said. The acceptable level set by the Geneva-based World Health Organization is 15 micrograms.

    While the inhabitants were told the leak won't have a significant health or environmental impact, fishing in the nearby Gaffiere River was barred and many people, including Serinian, were ordered not to use tap water. It's the first time such restrictive measures were imposed, Desbordes said.

    Serinian says she was asked to provide urine samples. ``I told myself, nobody knows how this is going to end,'' she said.

    At 10 p.m. on July 7, uranium waste liquid overflowed from a tank being emptied for a clean-up at Areva's Socatri plant at the Tricastin site, the company said in a statement July 17. The incident didn't trigger any alarms since the liquid fell into a containment tank. At 4:45 a.m., employees noticed water leaking through cracks in the tank, Areva said. The company said it then waited three hours for tests before alerting the authorities.

    `Truly Sorry'

    In all, it took Areva nine hours to notify the authorities, who in turn took another 11 hours to inform the town's people, France's Nuclear Safety Agency said.

    ``We were alerted late, left alone with very little information,'' said Marie-Claude Bompard, Bollene's mayor.

    France's nuclear safety agency ranked the incident at 1 on a scale that goes as high as 7 for the most serious risk. It suspended a part of the plant's operations.

    A week after the leak, Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo called for tests on ground water near all nuclear plants and asked Areva Chief Executive Officer Anne Lauvergeon to conduct an audit. Areva replaced the head of the Socatri unit, citing a ``lack of coordination.''

    ``I am truly sorry for all the worry this has caused,'' Lauvergeon said at a July 18 press conference at the Girardes Lake, near Bollene, where a week earlier police had evacuated a few hundred bathers.

    Areva reported seven level 1 incidents last year, Lauvergeon said. France overall had 114.

    ``Tricastin is at least a level 2,'' said Desbordes. ``Level 1 usually means no environmental impact.''

    Meanwhile, winemakers around Bollene selling Cote du Rhone under the name ``Coteaux du Tricastin'' want to change the brand. Other residents are considering more drastic actions.

    ``I don't trust the system anymore,'' said Sylvie Eymard, 44, a social worker who plans to leave Bollene.

    ``But where can we go?'' asked Eric Mancellon, 41, who was barred for four days from irrigating the vegetables and fruits he sells. ``In France we're surrounded by nuclear plants.''

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    Re: Uranium Leaks Rattle France's Nuclear Support, Anger Villagers

    Post by car0_linex on Sun Jul 27, 2008 4:37 pm

    thank 4 sharing affraid

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    Re: Uranium Leaks Rattle France's Nuclear Support, Anger Villagers

    Post by sodong on Fri Aug 15, 2008 1:31 am

    thanks 4 info bro garuda rock

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    Re: Uranium Leaks Rattle France's Nuclear Support, Anger Villagers

    Post by Prodip2007 on Sun Aug 17, 2008 10:31 am

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