Les dernières mesures réalisées dans l’environnement semblent indiquer un retour à la normale pour la quasi-totalité des points surveillés dans les eaux superficielles et les eaux de nappe. Deux points de mesure des eaux de nappe qui ont montré ou qui montrent des valeurs plus élevées que la valeur guide préconisée par l’OMS pour les eaux destinées à la consommation humaine retiennent l’attention des experts.
So “retour à la normale” sounds as if everything is OK again – after the leakage. Unfortunately this is not the case. Besides some doubts about the official versions (for example an independent investigation of the organisation CRIIRAD found atoms with a mass of 236 which is probably Uran 236 and thus contradicting the statement that only natural uranium had been spilled (info via Schockwellenreiter)) one should note that the latency time for cancer due to incorporated radioactivity (the radiotoxicity of uranium as well as plutonium is is mainly due to alpha radiation and such it is mainly dangerous if incorporated) for bone, liver and kidney cancer approximately 20-30 years for Leukemia it is about 2-10 years. So higher cancer rates will probably be visible only after that times (if they are monitored at all?)
Still it seems that things could have been much much worse. I dont know what exactly is processed at Tricastin, but the fact that France’s fast breeder the Phenix is much closer to the Tricastin site than to the site of the reprocessing plant at La Hague and the fact that it seems that it was already discussed to built an EPR at Tricastin, which as I explained here and here may burn MOX fuels (and thus also Plutonium) could mean that people were lucky that it was “just (unenriched) uranium” and not plutonium, which was spilled. Why? Because plutonium 239 has a specific activity which is about 180.000 times bigger than uranium, as can be seen in this table by the University of Oldenburg. Roughly means: If you incorporate the same amount of uranium 238 or plutonium 239 then plutonium is about 180.000 times more dangerous.