France is more reliant on atomic power than any other country in the world – almost 80 per cent of French electricity is generated in its 19 nuclear power stations.
On the 7th of July at the Tricastin plant, another leak was reported, prompting the environment minister, Jean-Louis Borloo to order tests at all of the country’s nuclear generation plants.
On a scale of zero-to-seven measuring potential danger, the Tricastin leak was classified a ‘level-one’ event, posing little threat.
But the French Nuclear Safety Authority criticised Areva for its handling of the incident, saying the company delayed communication of the problem, and the security measures in place were unsatisfactory.
Tricastin now has a new manager with a brief to take a close look again at procedures.
Two separate nuclear leaks in such a short time are sure to prove embarrassing for the President Sarkozy.
The state-controlled Areva is spearheading his effort to sell French atomic energy technology worldwide.