• France's news in English

French nuclear incident 'is over': safety agency

AFP · 12 Sep 2011, 18:00

Published: 12 Sep 2011 16:16 GMT+02:00
Updated: 12 Sep 2011 18:00 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

An incident caused by a blast at a nuclear site in the south of France Monday in which one person died "is over", its regulator the national Nuclear Safety Authority said.  

"This accident has no radiological risk or need for population protection," the ASN said, adding that it had suspended its crisis cell dealing with the incident.

At least one person was killed and four injured in a blast at a nuclear site in the south of France on Monday as the government sought to play down fears of a radioactive leak.  

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, 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.  

An expert at the Institute for Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety in Paris, Olivier Isnard, said radioactive levels in the oven were only around 17 becquerels per kilo -- "very, very low" -- at the time of the blast.  

"We don't expect there to be an impact on the environment," Isnard said, adding that samples would be taken from grass, soil and dust on cars to confirm this.  

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 north of the historic city of Avignon which is thronged with tourists at this time of the year.  

Story continues below…

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

France said in June it would invest €1 billion ($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.  

Environmental lobby group Greenpeace demanded total and immediate transparency from the authorities.  

"It's essential for local populations to be informed in real time about the situation and possible radioactive discharge," said campaigner Yannick Rousselet.  

He pointed out that the site was not covered by the audit of French nuclear sites ordered after the Fukushima disaster nor had it been part of the ASN's latest round of inspections.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France migrant crisis
Migrant crisis won't end with Calais 'Jungle' closure
All Photos: AFP

The Jungle camp may be being cleared but this won't be the end of the migrant crisis in France.

How Paris is rapidly becoming Europe's 'City of Innovation'
Photo: AFP

If you want to start a company then Paris is the place to do it, it seems.

'Jungle' clearance: Migrants begin to leave Calais camp
All photos: AFP

The "Jungle" clearance is underway.

France’s 'Jungle' children arrive in UK
Authorities will start to clear the ‘Jungle’ migrant camp on Monday. Photo: Denis Charlet / AFP file picture

The first group of children from the French "Jungle" migrant camp with no connection to Britain have arrived in the country, the Home Office said Sunday, ahead of the camp's planned demolition.

French FM calls for end to Aleppo 'massacre'
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault says the international community cannot ‘come to a negotiation under the bombs’. Photo: Dominick Reuter / AFP file picture

France's foreign minister urged the international community to "do everything" to end the "massacre" in the Syrian city of Aleppo on Sunday after fighting resumed following a 72-hour truce declared by Damascus ally Russia.

Parisians cheer on protesting French police
French police officers on Saturday demonstrated for the fifth night in a row to protest mounting attacks on officers. Photo: Thomas Samson / AFP

Angry French police have taken to the streets for five nights in a row -- and Parisians have started to cheer them on, reviving scenes last seen following the Charlie Hebdo attacks in 2015.

Scarlett Johansson turns popcorn girl in Paris
US actress Scarlett Johansson greets customers at the Yummy Pop gourmet popcorn shop in the Marais district of Paris. Photo: Benjamin Cremel / AFP

Hollywood superstar Scarlett Johansson swapped the red carpet for a turn behind the counter at her new popcorn shop in Paris on Saturday.

US couple donates huge art collection to Paris
Marlene (centre) and Spencer (right) are donating their collection ‘for the benefit of art lovers’. Photo: Thomas Samson / AFP

A Texan couple who discovered their love for art during a trip to Paris in the 1970s are to donate the multi-million dollar collection they have amassed since to the French capital.

France to clear 'Jungle' migrant camp Monday
Migrants will be bussed from the camp to some 300 temporary accommodation centres around France. Photo: Denis Charlet/ AFP

The "Jungle" migrant camp on France's northern coast will be cleared of its residents on Monday before being demolished, authorities said Friday.

How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
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
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
jobs available