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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