French nuclear safety flaws reported : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

French nuclear safety flaws reported Thursday, 30 March 2000 10:37 (ET)

PARIS, March 30 (UPI) -- Following disclosure of lax safety at the British Nuclear Fuels Sellafield plutonium reprocessing facility, new reports surfaced Thursday of similar safety woes at a French facility.

The German government Thursday began a nationwide safety check at its nuclear power plants that buy mixed oxide fuel from the French state-owned nuclear group, Cogema.

The German decision to check its stockpile of MOX fuel was based on a report of a safety flaw at Cogema's plant at Cadarachein in southern France.

In Paris, the Ministry of Environment, headed by a minister from the French Green Party, acknowledged there had been been problems at the Cogema Cadarachein facility.

But no other reaction was forthcoming Thursday.

According to German television reports, Cogema uncovered a mistake in computerized quality control checks, producing incorrect MOX fuel ingredients. Also Thursday, Bayernwerk, the Bavarian power company, claimed an error affected a batch of fuel sent last December to its Isar 2 atomic power station.

However, Siemens Power Generation, which conducts MOX fuel purchases for Bayernwerk and other generators, has insisted that no breach of safety occurred.

The reports of French safety flaws emerged just after the Ukrainian government Wednesday announced it had decided to close down Chernobyl, site of the world's worst nuclear accident in 1986. The Ukraine plans to shut down the plant at the end of this year.

The French nuclear industry problems have come out following British Nuclear Fuels' admission that its workers last year falsified quality control records for a MOX shipment to Japan.

Last week, U.S. government officials ordered a review of approximately $10 billion in nuclear reprocessing awarded to BNFL. And Danish and Irish governments announced earlier this week they plan to press for a ban against nuclear reprocessing in northern Europe at an international marine environment conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, in June.

Continuing concerns over nuclear reprocessing safety seem certain to encourage Europe's growing anti-nuclear movement -- especially in Germany, where the government is under pressure to close down its 19 nuclear plants. MOX fuel for German power stations is produced by Cogema, BNFL and Belgonucleaire.

-- Copyright 2000 by United Press International. All rights reserved

-- Martin Thompson (, March 30, 2000

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