Under sea threat

Published: Saturday 15 August 1998

STUDIES have revealed that Cogema, the operator of the state-owned La Hague reprocessing plant, has installed inadequate equipment off the plant's discharge pipe, 30 metres under the sea, in a futile attempt to prevent the routine discharge of radioactive particles into the ocean.

According to Greenpeace, an international environmental group, levels of radiation on the outside of the two steel chambers are so high that a no-dive zone was imposed by Greenpeace's radio-protection officer. The data had been collected during diving operations conducted from the Greenpeace ship MV Sirius on the discharge pipeline, and have been summarised in a paper by John Large, an independent consultant engineer.

In October this year, Cogema denied that there was any significant problem with the routine discharge of radioactive particles into the ocean. However, the recent findings reveal a clandestine and incompetent attempt to collect the radioactive discharges, in a way that will not stop dangerous particles from entering the environment and potentially contaminating the food chain.

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