EDF blamed for nuclear train contamination

"Poor controls" by French electricity generator the cause of nuclear convoy contamination

Radioactive contamination on trains carrying irradiated nuclear fuel to La Hague nuclear reprocessing plant in Normandy is due to "poor controls" exercised by Electricité de France, according to an official report delivered to French prime minister Lionel Jospin on Wednesday. According to the national nuclear installations safety inspectorate (DSIN), the state-owned electricity generator has failed in a number of respects to ensure that convoys of irradiated nuclear fuel leaving nuclear power stations do not have surface contamination. "Insufficient" state control is also to blame, the DSIN says: its report points out that La Hague operator Cogema informed EDF that some rail transports showed excess surface radioactive contamination as long ago as 1988. National French rail company SNCF halted all nuclear transports when it emerged two weeks ago that 37% of the approximately 200 rail transports delivered to La Hague by French nuclear power stations in 1997 showed surface contamination (ENDS Daily 30 April). The DSIN's report confirms that traces of contamination of up to 8,000 Becquerels per square centimetre were discovered, whereas the regulatory limit is 4 Becquerels. It stresses that contamination at this level has no health implications for SNCF employees.

Follow Up:
DSIN, tel: +33 1 43 19 36 36.

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