Nuclear: the scenario in France in the event of an accident


A wind of panic is blowing in places. Would France be ready in the event of a nuclear incident or even an attack on a power plant in Ukraine? According to the prefect of Oise, many elected officials are asking the question. As L’Oise Hebdo explains, Corinne Orzechowski, prefect of the department, invited the communities of the commune to prepare in the event of a radioactive cloud, by distributing iodine tablets to the population.

In her letter quoted by the local newspaper, she writes: “I draw your attention to the speed with which this distribution will have to take place. I therefore recommend that you formalize this procedure in your intermunicipal or municipal backup plans or, at the very least , by developing a reflex sheet”. Is the prefect of Oise right to alert local elected officials about a radioactive cloud?

Christophe Quintin, chief inspector of the Nuclear Safety Authority, explains to Planet that this communication “is not necessarily linked to an attack in Ukraine” and that it is in any case “necessary to prepare for the distribution of iodine, because you can have accidents on French territory or in Europe”. Some reactors, in particular those which manufacture iodine for the medical field, could indeed make small discharges, in France and abroad. “Accidents after which the French would need to take iodine may exist, so it is important to be able to prepare for this type of event”, he adds. Everything is planned in a plan, called Orsec iode.

What would happen to you if this plan were triggered in the next few weeks, the next few months? Who would be the French concerned? What should they do? We take stock with this specialist.

Some French people already have stocks of stable iodine tablets, which they can regularly pick up at the pharmacy. These are the inhabitants located in an area of ​​20 kilometers around the nuclear power plants, listed by the Nuclear Safety Authority:

As Christophe Quintin explains, these French people are concerned by the first level of the system, which allows them to collect stable iodine tablets from their pharmacist each campaign. The second level concerns the entire population: “The public authorities, in all the departments, have stocks of stable iodine for all situations where we could be led to ask the French populations to take iodine”.

It can be “a radioactive cloud from a facility in Europe, a reactor in Ukraine, but also a reactor that manufactures iodine in border countries”, he adds to from Planet. In these cases, all French people would be concerned… Here is what would happen for you.

In the event of a radioactive cloud, all French departments could be affected or only a few… Depending on the weather. Christophe Quintin, chief inspector of the Nuclear Safety Authority: “The number of departments affected would really depend on the weather, a bit like the Chernobyl cloud. We would adapt that according to the weather”. Everything will depend in fact on the direction of the winds, because they would have to go “from east to west and that is not every day, since the Earth turns in the other direction”, he specifies to Planet .

In the event of a nuclear accident, or an attack on a reactor in Ukraine, the French state would have plenty of time to react. “It’s a cloud that we would see coming, it would cross many countries before ours and they have reliable means of measurement, such as Austria and Germany. We would actually have several days to prepare”, concludes Christophe Quintin.