Areva to improve monitoring at Tricastin plant

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

PARIS: French nuclear engineering giant Areva said Wednesday it will invest €20 million (US$29.2 million) to improve health and environmental monitoring at a reactor complex that has been the site of a series of recent safety incidents.

The investment will also be used to find a new storage place for nuclear waste held at a site near the Tricastin complex that Areva acquired from France's Atomic Energy Commission in 2006, Areva said.

Paris-based Areva, the world's largest maker of nuclear plants, "will be pursuing its investments to modernize the entire Tricastin site," the company said in a statement. The investments will be made over the next couple of years, company spokesman Julien Duperray said.

Incidents at the site in southern France include a leak of unenriched uranium on July 7 and 100 employees of nuclear plant operator EdF being exposed to low-level radiation on July 23. The incidents have raised concerns in heavily nuclear-dependent France.

Areva has said the incidents were minor and caused no harm to employees or the environment, while France's Nuclear Safety Authority classified the accident on July 7 as a 1 on a scale of 0 to 7, where 7 is the most dangerous. The authority has provisionally classified the July 23 incident as zero.

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