EDF nuclear plant leak in France prompts court complaint

EDF nuclear plant leak in France prompts court complaint

Anti-nuclear groups have filed a court complaint against French utility EDF for under-reporting an incident at its Fessenheim plant near the German border, they said on Tuesday.

On Feb. 28, EDF stopped one of two nuclear reactors at the Fessenheim plant for an unplanned outage, citing "a lack of watertightness" on some piping outside the nuclear zone. It said there had been no safety or environmental impact.

But in a parliamentary hearing last week, the head of France's independent nuclear regulator ASN said that during the incident a pipe had burst, spreading water on an electrical cabinet. The pipe burst a second time on March 5. "We are not happy about the way they informed us," Pierre Franck Chevet told parliament on April 15.

The communication was more than out of sync with the reality," he said, adding that the state-owned company had"rushed" to restart the reactor without the necessary checks. Chevet said that while the incident was benign - it ranked 0 on the INES scale of nuclear events - ASN wanted to talk to EDF about what it revealed in terms of "behaviour". He said the regulator had taken legal steps against EDF, without specifying.

A spokesman for EDF declined to comment when contacted by Reuters on Tuesday. ASN was not immediately available.

Anti-nuclear groups led by Sortir du Nucleaire filed their complaint against EDF in a court in Colmar, eastern France. The prosecutor will consider the complaint and decide whether to dismiss it or launch an investigation. Fessenheim is France's oldest nuclear plant. President Francois Hollande has pledged to close it down before the end of his mandate in 2017.

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