Radiation leak at Germany's sole uranium enrichment facility

Sunday, January 24, 2010

An accident at Germany's sole uranium enrichment facility in North Rhine Westphalia has left one worker in hospital under observation.

The incident occurred at the plant in the town of Gronau, when a room in the uranium enrichment facility was accidently exposed to radioactive material. The worker was in the room when the accident occurred, and was taken to the hospital as a precaution. He is expected to be released Friday.

According to the plant's operating company, URENCO, there was no danger at any time to the surrounding population. The air in the room was filtered before being released, free of radiation, outside the facility.

Calls for closure
The incident has triggered calls for the closure of the Gronau facility from groups such as the Federal Association of Environmental Action Groups (BBU). In a statement released on the association's website, the head of the group, Udo Buchholz, said the accident in Gronau reminded him of contamination incidents at atomic facilities in the town of Hanau.

"They were taken out of operation, and the goal of the BBU and the local initiatives [near Gronau] is a similar closure of that facility," Buchholz said in the statement.

Germany has seventeen nuclear power plants, and one of the uses of uranium enrichment is to create fuel sources for such facilities.

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