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France’s nuclear spent-fuel pools major security risk: Greenpeace via Reuters

PARIS (Reuters) – The spent-fuel pools of French utility EDF’s nuclear reactors are highly vulnerable to attacks, Greenpeace said in a report published on Tuesday.

Written by a group of nuclear experts and delivered to French authorities, the report says that spent-fuel pools, which typically contain the equivalent of one to three nuclear reactor cores, have not been designed to withstand external aggression.

An attack leading to a loss of cooling water could spark a spent-fuel fire that could contaminate areas as far as 250 kilometers away, Greenpeace’s Yannick Rousselet said.

[…]

Once uranium fuel is burned, the waste – which remains radioactive and very hot for years – typically is cooled in pools 2-3 years before being shipped to processing plants.

Greenpeace experts estimate the cost of upgrading the pools’ safety at about one billion euros ($1.2 billion) per reactor.

The group said that since France has built many nuclear plants right by its borders, citizens of Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Germany and Luxembourg are at risk.

[…]

Areva’s La Hague plant is seen as particularly vulnerable.

“With the equivalent of about 114 reactor cores in its pools … La Hague is the nuclear facility that presents the highest risk in Europe,” said Yves Marignac, one of the experts.

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