Areva unions warn about safety at France's La Hague nuclear recycling plant

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 23, 2017 11:11 AM

By Geert De Clercq

PARIS (Reuters) - Redundancies and cost savings are compromising safety at French nuclear group Areva's nuclear waste recycling facility at La Hague in Normandy, the firm's unions say in an internal document.

In an undated and unsigned note from the Areva La Hague Health and Safety Committee (CHSCT), seen by Reuters, the plant's unions say that the Areva management's "frantic cost-cutting is jeopardizing long-established procedures" to prevent the risk of technical failures and human error.

French nuclear safety authority ASN told Reuters it had received a copy of the note in November and had consequently inspected the plant, concluding that safety levels were acceptable.

However, it confirmed an incident in late 2016 - highlighted in the union note - in which several batches of highly radioactive waste were not properly processed during vitrification. It also said it would remain vigilant about issues signaled by the unions and may adapt its monitoring procedures.

"We are launching a serious alert message: Until recently we pursued excellence in matters of safety, now we just try to be okay, which makes no sense in an industry that has no room for error," the CHSCT note said.

(Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Andrew Callus and Adrian Croft)