Environmental pressure group Greenpeace has said that France's Champagne region is under threat from radioactivity coming from a nearby nuclear waste site.

Greenpeace said yesterday (30 May) that low-level radioactive waste was leaking into groundwater less than six miles from the region.

Problems at the site in Soulaine were reported to the French nuclear safety authority on 24 May, Greenpeace said. The site's operator said that "the wall of a storage cell fissured" while concrete was being added to a recent layer of waste.

Greenpeace said that the site contained waste from France and abroad and that, once full, the dumpsite will be one of the world's largest with over 1m cubic metres of waste, including plutonium.

"Radioactivity is already leaking from the dumpsite in Champagne," said Shaun Burnie, nuclear campaigner at Greenpeace International.

"The authorities know they have a problem in Champagne already, with mistakes in the design. This is only the beginning of the problem, the bigger picture is that France has a nuclear waste crisis out of control that is threatening not only the environment and public health but also the economy of the Champagne region."

Officials in Champagne for France's nuclear watchdog, L'Autorité de sûreté nucléaire, could not be reached for comment when contacted by just-drinks today. Representatives for Champagne's trade body, the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne, were also unavailable for comment.