The Cadarache research center near Marseille had stated it had
eight kilograms of plutonium slated for decommissioning, but there were
22 kg found at the location during the operation.
The facility had a license to store more than 22 kg of plutonium,
but authorities are nonetheless curious as to why the extra 14 kg went
"We need to have some transparency in this matter because this is
not normal," said the French junior environment minister, Chantal
France's nuclear safety watchdog, the ASN, said safety measures at
the facility were reduced as a result of the quantity of plutonium
The ASN said the incident did not pose any threat to security, but
has pushed for a re-examination of procedures ensuring the fissile
material cannot be used to trigger a chain reaction.
The watchdog has also ordered that dismantling work at the facility be halted over worker safety fears.
Much focus has been given to the revelation that the extra plutonium was discovered in June but not reported until now.
French Ecology Minister Jean-Louis Borloo said he "profoundly
regretted that there was a delay between the discovery of the stocks
and the decision to report them."
Henri Maubert, a spokesman for the Cadarache facility, said no
effort was made to hide the discovery, and that administrators "were
just waiting to get a better overall view" before informing the
authorities. The plant was used to produce fuel for nuclear power stations in
France, which has the second largest network of nuclear facilities
after the United States.
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