Resident of Belgian city to be monitored after nuclear leak

Published 3 September 2008

Residents of the Hainaut village of Lambusart will undergo medical checkups and be tested for radiation over the next few days

Concerns about the rising cost of oil and climate change have spurred renewed interest in nuclear power. Nuclear power, though, comes with its own problems, as this story shows. A week after a leak from a nearby nuclear facility, residents of the Hainaut village of Lambusart village near the Belgian town of Fleurus were told they will be given medical tests, starting with children and pregnant women. The aim was to restore “full calm,” the local health authority said. The Federal Health Department has informed 3,000 residents of Lambusart that they can undergo free tests to see if they have traces of iodine in their thyroid gland. The health department had already given assurances Saturday that there was no danger. Examinations would begin Monday of all children under 12, and pregnant women.

Lambusart is located near the Wanfercée-Baulet nuclear facility, Institut National de Radio elements, which reported of a radioactive iodine leak last Sunday. The local population had been warned Friday not to consume locally- produced vegetables and dairy products following the leak of radioactive iodine. The interior ministry also issued a warning against the consumption of local dairy products. The warnings follow the discovery of unusually high levels of radiation in grass samples taken near the nuclear facility which makes radioisotopes used to treat cancer.

The European Commission said it had been notified of the radioactive leak, which was rated at Level 3 on the International Nuclear Incident Scale of seven. Officials in Brussels said there was no evidence of anyone having been contaminated by the leak.