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Shaving your hair, drinking a lot … A book immerses you in the post-nuclear disaster


The box of the HBO series, “Chernobyl”, demonstrated it: nuclear power is a monster which continues to fascinate the public by the capacity of extraordinary damage of which it is capable, well beyond an oil slick or d ‘a chemical factory explosion (among other things, what the hell).

A novel, “the Yellow Stone” (Ed. Goutte d’Or, February 2021) tells what would happen if the disaster affected not a power plant, but the La Hague plant, this atomic waste reprocessing center, vast as 300 football fields. It’s fiction, yes, but written by a journalist, Geoffrey Le Guilcher. And this one is very well informed. Interview.

One has the impression that the Chernobyl disaster is unsurpassable in its magnitude. But you write that if the French waste reprocessing center at La Hague were hit by an attack, that would represent 6.7 Chernobyl!

It is not me who gives this figure, but the Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN), the official body responsible for the risks associated with radioactivity. And that’s a very low range: a German expert, Mycle Schneider, estimates it would be 66 times, others say 500 times. Either way, it would be an unprecedented disaster in world history, because La Hague pools 2,000 tonnes of used fuel in each of its pools – and there are four of them. This site has the largest concentration of fissile material in the world.

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