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FRANCE: Pipe Break Causes Leak
Of Uranium at French Plant

Associated Press
July 21st, 2008

PARIS -- Uranium-bearing liquid has leaked from a broken underground pipe at a nuclear site in southeastern France, the national nuclear-safety authority said Friday in the second leak discovered at a French site this month.

Experts are working to determine how much leaked uranium is present at nuclear company Areva SA's plant in the town of Romans-sur-Isere, the Nuclear Safety Authority said. Specialists will work to clean up the site.

The statement said the pipe is believed to have ruptured several years ago. It added that the pipe "was not in line with the applicable regulations, which require shock resistance ability sufficient to avoid rupture."

Areva spokesman Charles Hufnagel said the leak of lightly enriched uranium didn't spread outside the site and had "absolutely no impact on the environment."

He said the factory hoped the leak would be classified as a level 1 problem -- the most minor of seven possible rankings.

Still, the announcement was the latest blow for Areva after an incident earlier this month when a liquid containing traces of unenriched uranium leaked from a factory in Tricastin in southern France. Areva said that problem "did not affect either the health of employees and local populations, or their environment."

France is the most nuclear-dependent country in the world, with 59 reactors churning out nearly 80% of its electricity. The French state owns Areva.

Copyright 2008 Associated Press

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