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Plutonium find halts work at French nuclear site

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Plutonium find halts work at French nuclear site


Work to dismantle a nuclear plant in France has been suspended after unexpectedly high levels of plutonium were discovered. The incident has raised concerns about safety and security at the country’s nuclear sites.

Around 22 kilograms of plutonium were found — three times more than expected. Greenpeace says the plant was in breach of international rules. A spokeswoman said every gram of plutonium had to be strictly controlled and that it was clear that, Areva, the company running the site was incapable of doing that. France’s nuclear watchdog is also angry that it was only informed of the discovery last week, three months after it was made. But it says there was no risk of a major nuclear accident at the Cadarache plant near Marseille. Jérôme Rieu of L’Autorité de Sûreté Nucléair said: “The plutonium was dispersed within the facility in several different units known as ‘glove boxes’. They weren’t stored in the same place. So, it seems there were enough safety margins to prevent an accident.” The watchdog said there had been no repercussions from the incident, the latest to cloud the reputation of France’s well-developed nuclear power industry. It ranked the event as a level two on a scale of seven.

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