• France's news in English

One dead in French nuclear blast

AFP · 12 Sep 2011, 15:50

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

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

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".  

Story continues below…

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.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Kidnapped Riviera millioniare found tied up in Nice
Photo: AFP

Head of luxury Cannes hotel found alive after by kidnapped in Nice on Monday.

Paris landlords still charging illegally high rent prices
Photo: Panoramas/Flickr

... and it's tenants in the smaller apartments that get hit the hardest. Could you be paying too much?

France takes baby steps to make life simpler
Photo: AFP

... including extending the ridiculously short time limit for registering a new baby.

IN PICTURES: Calais Jungle camp goes up in flames
All Photos: AFP

Migrants leave behind a scorched camp as they are moved to locations across France.

French expats in UK suffer Brexit abuse
French ambassador to the UK Sylvie Bermann with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. Photo: AFP

French nationals no longer feel at home in the UK, ambassador says. But Brits in France have been greeted with sympathy since the referendum.

Six to go on trial in France over topless Kate photos
Photo: AFP

The topless pics sparked fury among the royals.

France sees biggest drop in jobless rate for 20 years
Photo: AFP

Good news at last. But it's unlikely to keep President François Hollande in his job.

Calais migrants given mixed reception in French towns
Photo: AFP

Some in France have shown solidarity with their new guests, while others have made it clear they are not welcome.

Lonely Planet says Bordeaux is world's best city to visit
The fantastic new Bordeaux wine museum. Photo: AFP

After The Local France, the Lonely Planet has followed suit by urging everyone to head to Bordeaux in 2017.

Jungle shacks set ablaze and torn down as camp razed
All photos: AFP

IN PICTURES: The razing of the Jungle has finally begun.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available