Des traces de radioactivité liées au cobalt, au manganèse et à d'autres éléments ont été retrouvées sur les toits, les barrières et en d'autres endroits de la centrale nucléaire Asco, en bordure de l'Ebre à 70 kilomètres de la Méditerranée, a indiqué l'organisation dans un communiqué.
Un accident impliquant du liquide de refroidissement il y a quelques mois pourrait avoir provoqué une fuite, qui n'a pas été correctement nettoyée par la suite, a expliqué à l'Associated Press le porte-parole de Greenpeace Mario Rodriguez.
Un niveau de radioactivité de plus de cinq curies a été relevé en plusieurs endroits autour de la centrale, précise Greenpeace.
Le personnel de sécurité de la centrale n'a pas été autorisé à répondre à la presse...
Une centrale nucléaire de la province
espagnole de Tarragone (nord-est) a minimisé l'importance d'une
fuite radioactive et s'expose à des sanctions, a-t-on appris aujourd'hui
auprès du Conseil de sécurité nucléaire (CSN)
SPAIN: Warning of Radioactive Leak Comes Five Months Late
| Greenpeace wants to know what regulations
are in force at the Ascó-Vandellòs Nuclear Association, the
owners of the reactor, for procedures within the unit and for the actions
of its operators, for the design and fulfilment of its safety systems and
for notification of public authorities of safety-related incidents.
"Knowing what really happened is necessary so that citizens can demand that sanctions be imposed according to nuclear legislation, and to initiate criminal and civil actions, if there is evidence of harm to persons or the environment caused by radiation," Carlos Bravo, head of Greenpeace Spain's Nuclear Campaign, told the press.
After Greenpeace reported the leak at the plant, the CSN issued a press release, but it contained few details.
On Tuesday, in a new announcement, the CSN said that the radioactive leak was in fact 100 times greater than the amount initially declared by the company, so it has decided to open an investigation, as well as have medical checks performed on over 700 people who have been in contact with the plant.
Based on a report it received on Monday, the CSN accused the power plant on Tuesday of exercising "inadequate control of radioactive material' and of providing 'incomplete and deficient information."
The leak, which according to the company was Level 1, is now classified by the CSN as Level 2, on a scale of one to seven. This makes it one of the four most serious mishaps in the history of Spain's nuclear industry.
The CSN's deputy director of radiological protection, Manuel Rodríguez, said that the agency had given out 'inadequate' information because it had itself been misinformed, and added that "the radioactivity leaked outside the plant is estimated to be 100 times more than what the plant declared a week ago," although at that time the company already knew the facts.
On Apr. 4, the company told CSN that 235,000 becquerels of radioactivity had been leaked, whereas in its latest report it put the number at 19.5 million becquerels.
The CSN met with the 13 mayors of the neighbouring municipal districts on Apr. 7 to inform them of the event, but the power plant's managers did not reveal the true facts even then.
Greenpeace activist Bravo insists that this lack of information is serious.
The company that owns the plant, in which Spanish transnational companies Endesa and Iberdrola are the main shareholders, issued its own communiqué on Monday stating that "analysis of the particles that were found and removed confirm that the radiation is of scant significance and will not affect people's health or the environment."
"Once the clean-up work, which was given top priority, was completed, precise laboratory analyses on the particles, and the necessary calculations, were carried out," it added.
But according to Bravo, this was "totally inadequate as a logical explanation of the origin and causes of the event, as well as for evaluating its radiological consequences."
Moreover, he said, "there is no minimum threshold for the stochastic (random) effects of ionising radiation, even if the radioactivity were below regulation levels, which remains to be proven."
Given what it calls the 'irresponsible operation' of the nuclear plant, Greenpeace is demanding that the CSN and the government cancel its licence and suspend the activities of Ascó and another plant owned by the same company, as a precautionary measure.
Quantifying the level of radiation is essential to assess the radiological risk to persons and the environment, and also to establish whether any laws were broken at the nuclear plant.
While the debate goes on, the nuclear plant is continuing to operate, concern in civil society is rising and the government is waiting for a detailed report from the CSN to come to a decision. The head of CSN, Carmen Martínez Ten, will be appearing before the lower house of Congress to explain what has happened, on an as-yet undetermined date. (END/2008)