FRANCE: Pipe Break Causes Leak Of Uranium at French Plant

PARIS -- Uranium-bearing liquid has leaked from a
broken underground pipe at a nuclear site in southeastern France, the
national nuclear-safety authority said Friday in the second leak
discovered at a French site this month.

Experts are working to determine how much leaked uranium is present at nuclear company Areva SA's plant in the town of Romans-sur-Isere, the Nuclear Safety Authority said. Specialists will work to clean up the site.

The statement said the pipe is believed to have
ruptured several years ago. It added that the pipe "was not in line
with the applicable regulations, which require shock resistance ability
sufficient to avoid rupture."

Areva spokesman Charles Hufnagel said the leak of
lightly enriched uranium didn't spread outside the site and had
"absolutely no impact on the environment."

He said the factory hoped the leak would be classified as a level 1 problem -- the most minor of seven possible rankings.

Still, the announcement was the latest blow for Areva
after an incident earlier this month when a liquid containing traces of
unenriched uranium leaked from a factory in Tricastin in southern
France. Areva said that problem "did not affect either the health of
employees and local populations, or their environment."

France is the most nuclear-dependent country in the
world, with 59 reactors churning out nearly 80% of its electricity. The
French state owns Areva.

Copyright © 2008 Associated Press

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