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French Plan To Clean Fukushimas Radioactive Water Detailed Including Risks

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suffragette Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 09:36 AM
Original message /

Jeff McMahon

French Plan To Clean Fukushimas Radioactive Water Detailed Including Risks
Apr. 25 2011 - 9:35 am

The process a French firm will use to clean Fukushimas radioactive water has been blamed for a leukemia cluster in France and for polluted beaches and irradiated waters from the English Channel to the Arctic Sea.

Areva SA has promised to remove up to 99.99 percent of the radioactive contaminants in 67,500 tons of water flooding the crippled Fukushima-Dai-ichi nuclear plant. It will use a co-precipitation method employed at its La Hague nuclear fuel reprocessing facility in Normandy.

That process has been documented in detail by a French nuclear expert and by the U.S. government, which has shunned Frances fuel reprocessing method because of a nonproliferation concern and environmental concerns, in the words of Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko.

The water treatment process has been deplored by environmental groups including Greenpeace and Physicians for Social Responsibility in part because of the quality of cleaned water it produces:
France reprocesses reactor fuel at the vast La Hague facility on the Normandy coast. The so-called low-level liquid wastes from reprocessing are discharged into the English Channel and into the air. However, these low-level wastes still contain highly radioactive and often long-lived isotopes. Dumping these same wastes into the sea in containers would violate the 1970 London Dumping Convention.

{b}Leukemia Clusters Near La Hague and Sellafield
The La Hague reprocessing plant in France is the largest facility of its kind in the world (see Energy & Security #2), with a capacity of 1650 tons of spent fuel per year. A study, published in January 1997 in the British Medical Journal by two French scientists, showed a potential link between an increased incidence of childhood leukemia in the area around La Hague and discharges from the plant.1 Dominique Pobel and Jean-Francois Viel conducted a case-control study, covering a 35-kilometer radius around the plant. Their study considered 27 cases of leukemia diagnosed in people under 25 years of age between 1978 and 1993 and 192 controls matched for such factors as gender, age, place of birth, and place of residence. The parents of these subjects were also studied, including for factors such as lifestyle, radiation exposure, and occupational exposure.
Pobel and Viel found that children who had spent time at local beaches more than once a month were almost three times more likely than the controls to develop leukemia. They also found an increased risk when mothers went regularly to these beaches during pregnancy. A similarly increased risk to children was shown from eating local fish and shellfish, although mothers' eating habits appeared to pose no increased risk to their children. Parents' occupational exposure (not just to radiation, but also to chemicals and wood dust) or exposure to radiation did not seem to significantly influence the risk of leukemia in their children. They found some evidence of increased risk from exposure to radon in the home.

They concluded that their study shows some convincing evidence for a causal role for environmental radiation exposure, and that study into environmental pathways particularly on marine ecosystems is warranted. In fact, monitoring in June 1997 of the area around the drainage pipe from the reprocessing plant by Greenpeace, followed by an independent analysis on samples conducted by the Department of Labor, Health and Social Service of the Federal State of Hamburg (Germany) showed levels of tritium of up to 160 million becquerels per liter and sediments that could be classified as "waste containing nuclear fuel." In July, French Environmental Minister Dominique Voynet called an indefinite ban on fishing and bathing near the La Hague facility.

Sounds like a BP-like cleanup method. Conduct a process and say it's now clean when in fact, it is not.

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