Greenpeace issues legal challenge to Areva over foreign waste

6 June 2006

Environmental group Greenpeace has filed a legal challenge against Areva over its Centre Stockage de la Manche (CSM) waste disposal site, at La Hague in Normandy, claiming that the site contains foreign waste materials in contravention of French law.

The campaigners are calling for the site to be removed and decontaminated, a move which comes as the French senate debates extending the ruling covering the storage of foreign radioactive materials.

Greenpeace estimates 140,000 containers of nuclear waste disposed at the La Hague site came from foreign nuclear utilities in Europe and Japan and filed legal papers against Areva in relation to Dutch nuclear waste produced at La Hague. The CSM site was opened in 1969 and closed in 1994.

In related news, Greenpeace has also launched a campaign alleging that that radionuclide contamination is entering groundwater close to the Champagne region from the Centre de Stockage de l’Aube (CSA) site in Soulaine, eastern France.

Operators of the facility, the national nuclear waste agency ANDRA informed the French nuclear safety authority DGSNR that the wall of a storage cell fissured while concrete was added as a result of a ‘water corner’ phenomenon exerting excessive hydrostatic pressure on the concrete. The authority has issued an authorisation to repair the damaged wall and to resume operations at the cell but has demanded that all these cells from now on be conceived to resist the most severe ‘water corner.’ However, ANDRA acknowledged that the event revealed a flaw in the conception of the storage cells of the site.

Meanwhile, a Greenpeace protester flew a powered parachute within the 3km air exclusion zone around the Flamanville nuclear plant in Normandy, France in protest over plans by Electricité de France (EDF) to build an European Pressurized Water Reactor (EPR) at the site. The stunt was aimed at highlighting the potential risks associated with a 9/11 style terrorist attack on such a facility.

However, despite such high profile campaigns according to the Philadelphia Daily News in an embarrassing slip-up by Greenpeace the lobby group recently inadvertently issued a press release containing the words: “In the twenty years since the Chernobyl tragedy, the world's worst nuclear accident, there have been nearly [FILL IN ALARMIST AND ARMAGEDDONIST FACTOID HERE].”

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