Greenpeace to sue French Nuclear Industry

Feature story - 1 August, 2008
Over the last month there have been a catalogue of accidents at the French nuclear site Tricastin-Pierrelatte. We’ve followed all the breaking stories on our new weblog ‘Nuclear Reaction’. Now Greenpeace France has launched two court cases in an effort to find out what’s really been going on at the site.

Greenpeace activists make an unexpected appearance during the opening ceremony of the World Energy Conference.

It's been a heck of a nuclear month in France, here's a timeline of what we know so far:

  • July 7, 11PM, over 74 kilos of uranium is leaked into the environment  from Tricastin;
  • July 8, 7AM, eight hours later the authorities are informed;
  • July 8, 1PM,  Restrictions on fishing, bathing and drinking local water are introduced 14 hours after the accident;
  • July 17, investigation of the leak reveals that there is more radioactivity present than the leak could have caused. Further investigation suggests that the military, who stored radioactive material at the site underground without proper containment in the 60's and 70's could be to blame;
  • July 23, a leaking pipe results in 100 workers being exposed to radioactive particles from a leaking pipe;
  • July 29, a false alarm results in 120 workers being evacuated, tests show that 45 employees have traces of radiation on them from the previous weeks' leak.

Since the first incident the French police have launched an investigation and the French Environment Minister has ordered tests of the ground water at all French nuclear power facilities. That's of little comfort to a community which has discovered that their water could have been contaminated by radioactive waste for the last thirty years.

We're suing French power company Areva and its subsidiary company Socatri for causing water pollution, and for the abandonment and illegal deposit of waste. Our aim is to bring into the public eye the circumstances that led to these problems and expose the terrible safety record of the nuclear industry.

Areva is the 90 percent state owned flagship of the French nuclear industry, and along with the French power company EDF is a key part in President Nicolas Sarkozy's plans to spread nuclear power to the word. Since coming to power Sarkozy has concluded deals to spread French nuclear technology everywhere from Finland to South Africa, and from the USA to China.

That Sarkozy is intent on selling this technology to others while unable to manage it securely at home says it all. Our message for the President? "Nuclear Power? Non merci."

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