French Uranium Leak Fouls Drinking Water and Two Rivers

In what was reported earlier as a minor situation, comes news that a uranium leak from one of France’s nuclear power plants has tainted well water and two rivers 30 miles from the tourist city of Avignon, which is currently hosting an arts festival.

No Fishing Allowed and Drinking Well Water is Banned

According to published reports, the amount of untreated liquid uranium released amounted to 75kg, and was rated as a one on the one-to-seven scale of nuclear accidents.  Interesting, just a one, and you can’t drink the water, cannot fish or swim in the two rivers.

The local government is said to have immediately banned the drinking of well water, told residents in Vaucluse not to fish, or eat fish caught from the rivers, ended all swimming and water sports and the irrigation of crops in nearby fields.

How It Happened

It all came about while a tank was being cleaned last Monday night, when 30 cubic meters of liquid containing uranium leaked out of the tank.   Officials said 18 cubic meters poured onto the ground and into the nearby Gaffiere and Lauzon Rivers, which empty in to the Rhone.  In case you’re interested, and you should be, 30 cubic meters is equal to 7,925 gallons, and 18 cubic meters is equal to 4,755 gallons.

Radioactivity in Water Decreasing

The amount of radioactivity in the water is decreasing steadily, but a French environmental group, the Committee for Independent Research and Information on Radioactivity, said; “the amount released into the environment was at least 100 times higher than the fixed limit for that site for the entire year“.

The release occured at the Tricastin nuclear power centre in Bollene, a plant that’s been operating since 1975.  It is one of several that produces about 87% of France’s electricity needs, but like the rest of us, it’s getting older, and humans are at the wheel.

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7 thoughts on “French Uranium Leak Fouls Drinking Water and Two Rivers”

  1. Regarding jim47 states “There are rivers in Utah that are rated “ones” just for flowing through areas where uranium occurs naturally.”

    I don’t think this is correct. Here is an article:

    Yes, uranium is naturally occuring but it’s the mining that caused the problem.

  2. i think it’s one of several global warming cause. and uranium leak from nuclear power plant is stupid think from the owner.

  3. Steven Schwartz

    It is the responsibility of the utility to clean up the mess, in my opinion. They should also install systems which will eliminate potential accidental spills, even though this is hindsight.

    The problem won’t go away in our lifetime but we can be more careful. Our inatiable appetite for electricity has created the need for reliable, cheap power and nuclear power can’t be ruled out.

    Like it or not, it is here and probably will be with us for the foreseeable future.

    Will it take 500 years for the water to be drinkable again? Or is there any way to remediate the problem in a shorter amount of time?

  4. Without any qualitative radiological measurements, we have to take their word that it isn’t safe to swim in their river, or drink their water.
    But the case then becomes once the river is radiologically poisoned, all the arguments for and against nuclear power become moot.
    Their river is poisoned. END OF STORY

  5. And that’s my cue to back slowly towards the door, and vacate the premises. I’m not going to get in the middle of this. I pride myself on my ability to see all sides of an issue, and then make a good effort to find the reality that hides between all the extremisms, while trying to stay on good terms with those with whom I disagree. When people use polemics to decry polemics, I’m gone. You boys and girls enjoy yourselves.

  6. No, the problem here is anti-nukes quoting each other. The Guardian doesn’t tell news about nuclear energy, it merely grinds out polemics. All the sources in the story are anti-nuclear political groups.

    The local politicians are taking what they consider precautionary measures. Invariably, such measures are an over-reaction. But that doesn’t matter: Max can point to it as a vindication of his fondest convictions. As long as he can find misinformation like this to spread he never has to face reality.

  7. OK, I’ll call this a “Gotcha!” on me, Max 🙂 I’ll definitely have to do some investigation on this. As you noted, the plant sited is more than 30 years old. This might just be an isolated incident, or it could be part of a larger problem in France. You must admit, however, that if this is, in fact, the only problem that has happened in France, it shows that it is possible to have nuclear power and be virtually problem-free. I’m not yet willing to write off nuclear power based on one accident, but I’m certainly giving it due consideration. Compared to so many other, larger problems with other forms of power generation, this is not very big. There are rivers in Utah that are rated “ones” just for flowing through areas where uranium occurs naturally. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

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