La Hague accused over radioactive discharges

Greenpeace threatens court action, alleges French nuclear reprocessor breaching discharge licence

La Hague nuclear reprocessing plant in France is discharging larger radioactive particles than permitted, Greenpeace claimed yesterday after sampling wastewater leaving La Hague's waste pipe, off the Normandy coast. The group said it would take the operator Cogema to court for breaching its operating licence.

Greenpeace made a similar claim in 1997 after a previous sampling exercise (ENDS Daily 6 October 1997). Cogema today denied Greenpeace's accusation, as it did two years ago.

According to Greenpeace, independent analysis of water samples from the end of La Hague's discharge pipe revealed a number of particles larger than the regulatory limit of 25 microns (ug), plus a total level of radioactivity higher than allowed under EU law. In the case of cobalt 60, it said, levels found were 560 times that permitted under the 1996 EU directive on ionising radiation.

A spokesperson for Cogema denied the allegations. He told ENDS Daily that filters were used to retain any radioactive particles above 25ug, while the company carried out 80,000 analyses per year, supplemented by regular official checks. The spokesperson questioned the conditions used by Greenpeace for its "experiment".

Follow Up:
Greenpeace, tel: +31 20 422 3344 and press release; Cogema, tel: +33 1 39 26 30 00.

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