Probe opened in France over radioactive water rumours

phys.org | 7/7/2013 | Staff
townskey13 (Posted by) Level 3
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After the panic, the prosecution: investigators in Paris have opened an enquiry to track down the source of false reports last week that drinking water in the French capital had been contaminated.

In a viral message spread on the WhatsApp messaging app last week, a woman presenting herself as a nurse from a hospital in Paris can be heard telling people not to drink water from the tap because of the presence of radioactive "titanium".

Rumours - Authorities - People - Drinking - Tap

Other rumours spread that authorities were asking people to stop drinking from the tap.

Alarm reached such levels that hospitals and public health bodies were inundated with calls, while the water authority in Paris put out a public message on social media at the weekend reassuring Parisians that "drinking water poses no threat".

Problem - Water - Everyone - Head - Health

"There is no problem with the water, it is excellent for everyone," the head of the health body for the capital region, Aurelien Rousseau, added on Saturday in an interview with AFP.

Investigators in the Paris prosecutor's office have now opened an investigation into the crime of "publicising, spreading and reproducing false information intended to cause public disorder," a judicial source told AFP on Monday.

Anyone - Risks - Fine - Euros

Anyone found guilty risks a fine of up to 45,000 euros ($50,000).

Like many rumours spread on the internet or messaging apps, the story contained a kernel of truth that was distorted or deliberately manipulated to raise alarm.

Wednesday - Charity - Association - Control - Radioactivity

Last Wednesday, a small environmental charity called the Association for the Control of Radioactivity in the West (ACRO) published a report claiming low levels of the radioactive isotope tritium had been found in drinking water.

The group said in an alarmist statement that "6.4 million people are supplied with water contaminated with tritium", which is a byproduct of the nuclear power stations that provide the majority of France's electricity.

Group

But the group itself...
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