Tests are being carried out to pinpoint the cause of the latest leak at a nuclear power plant in southern France.
French energy company EDF says almost 100 staff were contaminated with a low dose of radiation during maintenance work on a closed-down reactor at the Tricastin plant near Avignon.
It is the second incident there in as many weeks, but officials are playing down the risk.
“We have an alarm system which is meant to protect the staff from contamination via the atmosphere,” said Alain Peckre, the director of the Tricastin nuclear plant.
“If a problem is detected, the alarms go off, our security procedures swing into place and everyone is evacuated from the building.”
On July 7, thirty cubic metres of effluent containing non-enriched uranium overflowed while a tank was being emptied. Tests showed that the ground water was contaminated even before the leak. Then on July 18 came a report of a second case at a plant 100 kilometres to the north. It was announced uranium may have seeped out of a broken pipe there for years.
The incidents have shaken confidence in France’s nuclear industry, the biggest in Europe. The government has ordered tests on all plants in the country to ensure similar leaks had not occurred elsewhere.