From: Reuters
Published July 17, 2008 12:51 PM

Checks ordered at French nuclear sites after leak

PARIS (Reuters) - Authorities will hold tests at all French nuclear power plants to ensure leaks like the one this month at Tricastin in southern France have not occurred, Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo told a newspaper.

Plant operator Areva said earlier this month that 30 cubic meters of liquid containing non-enriched uranium was accidentally poured on to the ground and into a river at the Tricastin site.

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In an interview with the daily Le Parisien published on Thursday, Borloo said he had ordered a special committee recently set up to ensure full transparency on nuclear incidents to review the mishap.

"The committee will follow the consequences of the incident, especially at the local level," he told the newspaper.

"But I want it to look at the radioactivity and environmental situation at all nuclear sites and I particularly want the state of the ground water tables around all French nuclear stations to be looked at," he said.

"We have to carry out a review of the sites and I expect an analysis from the committee," he said.

In the wake of the Tricastin incident, authorities banned fishing and swimming in the affected areas as well as the use of contaminated water.

Nuclear safety authority ASN criticized Areva for its handling of the incident, notably in the way in which it communicated with authorities. It also pointed to unsatisfactory security measures and operational procedures.

(Writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Jon Boyle)

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