• France edition
 

One dead in French nuclear blast

Published: 12 Sep 2011 13:42 GMT+02:00
Updated: 12 Sep 2011 15:50 GMT+02:00

The French government sought to play down fears of a radioactive leak after the explosion Monday at a nuclear site in the south of France in which at least one person died.

France's state nuclear regulator had said earlier that there was a risk of a leak after the blast at Codolet in the Rhone Valley near the southern city of Nimes.  

Despite killing one person and wounding at least four more, the blast "did not cause any radioactive leak", a spokesman at the energy ministry said.  

National electricity provider EDF confirmed the initial death toll following the explosion in an oven at the site. One of the injured is in a serious condition, France's Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) said.  

The blast hit the Centraco nuclear waste treatment centre belonging to EDF subsidiary Socodei, said a spokesman for the Atomic Energy Commissariat (CEA).  

"Initial reports suggest there was an explosion in an oven used to melt metallic low- and very low-level radioactive waste," the ASN said. 

An EDF spokesman said: "This is an industrial accident, not a nuclear accident."

"In this kind of oven, there are two sorts of waste: metallic waste such as valves, pumps and tools and combustible waste such as technicians' work outfits or gloves," the spokesman said.  

"The fire started by the explosion is under control."  

A security perimeter has been set up around the installation, firefighters said, without being able to provide further details.  

The interior ministry said that no one was evacuated from near the site nor were any workers confined following the blast.  

Those injured "have not been contaminated" and the fatality was caused by the explosion, the ministry said.  

Environment Minister Nathalie Kosciuscko-Morizet was due to arrive at the site on Monday afternoon, her ministry said, "to help carry out a precise evaluation of the possible radiological impact of this accident".  

"For the time being, no exterior impact has been detected," a source at the ministry said.  

"There are several detectors on the outside and none of them detected anything, the building is sound," an advisor at the ministry told AFP, adding that "we do not yet know what caused the blast".  

The site is around 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of the historic city of Avignon which is thronged with tourists at this time of the year.  

EDF's share price dropped over six percent on the news of the blast.  

France said in June it would invest one billion euros ($1.4 billion at the time) in future nuclear power development while boosting research into security.  

France produces most of its energy from nuclear power. Some countries, notably its EU neighbour Germany, have rejected nuclear power after the Fukushima reactor disaster in Japan.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
VIDEO: Making of French rugby hunk calendar
Here's a sneak peak at France's much anticipated rugby hunk calendar. Photo: Screengrab/StadeFrançais

VIDEO: Making of French rugby hunk calendar

France's annual calendar featuring the country's rugby hunks has unveiled its cover boy for the 2015 edition, but also a video of the making of 'Les Dieux du Stade' that should interest fans of these lightly clothed fellows. READ  

French leader calls factory workers 'illiterate'
A French minister is in hot water after calling factory workers illiterate. Photo: Fred Tanneau/AFP

French leader calls factory workers 'illiterate'

France's whizzkid new economy minister has been begging for forgiveness after referring to women workers at a troubled factory as 'illiterates' just weeks after his boss President François Hollande was accused of calling the poor "toothless". READ  

Top French chefs want banned bird on menu
A group of French chefs would like to put this bird back on the menu. Photo: Sergey Pisarevskiy/Flickr

Top French chefs want banned bird on menu

Top French chefs, including Alain Ducasse, want to be able to serve a long-banned delicacy -- a tiny songbird that was a favourite of the late president François Mitterrand and is traditionally eaten whole while wearing a napkin over your head READ  

UK-bound migrants rush aboard trucks in Calais
UK-bound migrants rushed a truck (not this one) and fought with police in Calais. Photo: Denis Charlet/AFP

UK-bound migrants rush aboard trucks in Calais

Migrants who tried to force their way onto UK-bound trucks at the port of Calais on Wednesday prompted clashes with police, who responded with tear gas. It's the latest confrontation in the long-running migrant crisis that involves France and Britain. READ  

French police snare 'Jihad recruiters' in raids
French police busted a suspectd jihad recruitment cell. Photo: AFP

French police snare 'Jihad recruiters' in raids

As parliament debates a bill that would ban French citizens travelling abroad for jihad, police arrest six people suspected of recruiting candiates for "holy war" in the Middle East READ  

'France is sick, there's no choice but to reform
France's whizzkid economy minister says France's flailing economy has left the country 'sick'. Photo: AFP

'France is sick, there's no choice but to reform

France's freshly minted economy minister, a former Rothschild banker, said the country is 'sick' due to record unemployment and stagnant growth. The only way to heal the patient is through reforms, he said. READ  

Irate woman pays taxes with 30 kilos in coins
One angry French taxpayer decided she'd had enough. Photo: Coins: Shutterstock

Irate woman pays taxes with 30 kilos in coins

A young Frenchwoman dumped thousands of centime coins on her local tax office to pay off her bill and protest against a French system that overtaxes its people. She also explained her actions by saying, "I am French and I love to complain!" READ  

Air France strike stretches into third day
The Air France pilots' strike has stretched into its third day. Photo: Jean-Philippe Ksiazek/AFP

Air France strike stretches into third day

Over half of Air France's flights were grounded on Wednesday as a pilots' strike stretched into its third day. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, exasperated by the action, called it 'incomprehensible'. READ  

New US ambassador to France gets approved
Jane Hartley, left, has gotten the OK of US lawmakers to be the next ambassador to France. Photo: AFP

New US ambassador to France gets approved

American lawmakers gave their OK on Tuesday for Jane Hartley, a top Obama fundraiser, to become the United State's new top diplomat in France. READ  

French lawmakers back blocking jihad departures
French lawmaker have supported a new anti-terror bill. Photo: AFP

French lawmakers back blocking jihad departures

As the number of French nationals waging jihad abroad creeps toward 1,000, French lawmakers have approved an anti-terror bill aimed at keeping would-be fighters from heading to war. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Marks & Spencer
Sponsored Article
Fashion Ladies of the Local: Win a New Autumn Look
National
Ten great bars in Paris only locals know about
Society
France's top expat tribes: Which are you?
National
France to set flat-rate for Paris airport taxis
Politics
French separatists want Scots to say 'yes'
National
Anti-dog poo offensive launched in French town
National
Scammers attack Paris's top cop at tourist hotspot
National
French leader didn't pay his rent for three years
National
'WW2 bomb' kills camper on French island
Does France have a racism problem?
National
National
'Enough gloom, France is an amazing country'
Gallery
The top ten tourist traps to avoid in France
Politics
The juiciest bits from Trierweiler's tell-all book
Politics
Trierweiler tells all: 'Hollande wanted me back, at any price'
Education
'Sacre bleu!' Do the French really say that?
Politics
Manuel Valls has plenty in common with Tony Blair, but not background
International
Votes for expats: Plan to end UK's 15-year rule
Gallery
Ten dos and don'ts for keeping your French in-laws happy
National
Unemployment: How does France compare to Europe?
International
Are all the talented professionals really leaving France?
National
La France profonde: Is it a rural idyll or a backwater hell?
Travel
Check out the four new attractions coming to Paris this autumn
Gallery
The French words you can't translate literally
National
Ten things you need to know about France's economics whizzkid
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se