Spillage of uranium-bearing effluents into the environment at the SOCATRI nuclear facility (Vaucluse, France)

Published on 17/07/2008 at 00:00

Information notice

During the night of July 7 to 8 2008, an incident occurred at the site of the SOCATRI company. A tank of the Uranium-bearing Effluent Treatment Station (STEU) of the SOCATRI facility overflowed in its retention tank. This retention tank was not leakproof at that time and caused a pollution of the environment.
On July 10 2008, four ASN inspectors, accompanied by two IRSN experts, carried out an in-depth inspection of the STEU facility. They examined the premises, the events chronology and the first corrective actions implemented by the licensee.
The inspectors observed that spillage in the Gaffière river has ceased.
They recorded the following offences :

  • security measures to prevent any further pollution are not completely satisfactory;
  • operating conditions during the incident highlighted irregularities not in compliance with the applicable regulatory requirements;
  • crisis management by the licensee showed gaps in information supply to public authorities.


The letter following the inspection on July 10 2008 has been posted on the ASN website www.asn.fr.
These offences led to the establishment of a record forwarded to the Prosecutor of the Republic of Carpentras on July 16 2008.
The College of ASN met on July 11 2008 and took a « decision » requiring the SOCATRI licensee to suspend the admission of effluents into the treatment station at the origin of the pollution and to implement immediate measures to secure the facility.
The College of ASN also took a « decision » requiring the SOCATRI licensee to implement a reinforced monitoring plan, including analysis in rivers and surrounding ground waters. The results will have to be regularly transmitted to ASN.
On July 12 2008, ASN carried out a second inspection to check the status of the installation and the implementation of the corrective measures required by the ASN decisions.
This inspection revealed that the ASN decisions had been applied by the SOCATRI licensee.
The letter following the inspection on 12 July 2008 has been also posted on the ASN website www.asn.fr.
Recent measurements made in the environment seem to indicate that values are back to normal for almost all points monitored in surface and in ground waters. Two measurement points of ground waters that had or have values higher than the guideline value recommended by WHO for water intended for drinking and irrigation purposes, attract the attention of experts.
Peculiarities of this type have already been highlighted around the site of Tricastin in a study carried out by IRSN. This study has been presented on the 4th of July 2008 to the local information committee of Tricastin (CIGEET), which has scheduled a public meeting next September to discuss this issue.
The Prefet of the Vaucluse decided to maintain measures taken following the incident, restricting use of water for irrigation and drinking purposes.
The High Committee for transparency and information on nuclear security (HCTISN) met on July 16 2008 for the hearing of the SOCATRI licensee. The ASN attended this meeting.
The ASN will also participate in an extraordinary meeting of the CIGEET on July 18 2008.
The incident is classified at level 1 of the International Nuclear Event Scale.


Date of last update : 03/09/2021