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Tricastin: AREVA to invest extra €20 million to improve environment around facilities

Press release

August 27, 2008

On the night of July 7-8, a tank containing a natural uranium solution overflowed in the SOCATRI facility on the Tricastin site. This occurred during an operation to drain a section of an industrial wastewater treatment unit scheduled to be decommissioned and replaced with a new station, in which AREVA announced €13 million of investment as of 2006.

Following the incident, 74 kg of natural uranium leaked into the environment. A monitoring plan was set up, and measurements showed the waterways concerned quickly returned to normal levels. The French nuclear safety authority (ASN) classified the event INES level 1[1].

  • Aware of the emotion and questions stirred up by the incident, and faithful to its policy of transparency, the AREVA group launched a full enquiry, the outcome of which was made public during the visit to the site by AREVA CEO Anne Lauvergeon. Notably, a new SOCATRI Director was appointed and assigned to conduct a thorough review of the facilities’ safety.
  • In addition, AREVA teams made immediate contact with the local populations, elected officials and economic stakeholders concerned, providing regular information on the incident (environmental analyses, investigation developments).
  • In the interest of dialog, the group decided on July 29 to open a complaints register at the various town halls in the areas of the Vaucluse department concerned, in order that those affected by the incident may be compensated. The First payments have been made on August 12 and nearly 130 cases from individuals and businesses have been dealt with so far.
  • In line with its continuous improvement approach, AREVA will be pursuing its investments to modernize the entire Tricastin site. The dedicated environmental monitoring teams will be redeployed and strengthened, with more analysis points on and around the site to provide a clearer image of the water table.

Finally, the group will be deploying concrete solutions for the long-term management of the environmental liabilities it has taken control of from other industries in the past, including the hill containing waste from the French atomic energy commission (CEA). Despite the evidence from studies that the hill is stable and causes no environmental impact or health risk for people, AREVA has decided to examine a solution to transfer some of the stored material to a certified center. Stakeholders shall be informed of any developments on the matter.

In total, €20 million will be invested at Tricastin to improve environmental and health monitoring on the site, and settle the balance of its industrial legacy.

[1] The International Nuclear Events Scale has eight levels from 0 to 7.

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