PARIS - French nuclear firm Areva has detected a uranium leak that could date back several years at a factory in southeastern France, the French safety authority said on Friday.
The safety authority said it had dispatched a team of experts to check the situation at a site in Romans-sur-Isere, but did not give any indication of the size of the leak, which was revealed on Thursday.
Areva, a state-controlled company which makes nuclear reactors and deals with uranium, said the leak was confined to its FBFC site and did not pose a danger to the environment.
News of the leak came just a day after the government ordered tests at all French nuclear power plants after Areva revealed that liquid containing non-enriched uranium had been accidentally released from another site in southeast France.
Areva told the ASN safety authority that the latest leak came from a buried pipe transporting liquid uranium and that the crack in the tubing was "several years old".
"Areva will start the cleaning of the impacted zone on July 18," ASN said in a statement, adding that the pipes did not appear to meet safety regulations.
ASN has criticised Areva for the way it handled the previous leak at Tricastin, saying it delayed communication of the
problem and had unsatisfactory security measures in place.
News of the latest leak is a fresh embarrassment for Areva which is at the forefront of French President Nicolas Sarkozy's effort to sell home-grown nuclear energy technology to the rest of the world.