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French Nuclear Explosion

September 12, 2011 by staff 

French Nuclear ExplosionFrench Nuclear Explosion, Officials and local police authority said there had been no radiation leak. About five hours after the explosion, the authority announced that the episode was over. The site, about 20 miles from Avignon, has no nuclear reactors, the authority said. A spokesman for France’s EDF Energy, which owns the site, said “this is an accident and not a nuclear power.”

Olivier Isnard, an emergency manager in the French Institute for Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety, said the blast took place in the casting of the waste treatment plant, crumbling around four tons of used equipment, mildly radioactive metal objects . The cause of the explosion was not yet known, he said, but stressed that the level of radiation – about 67,000 Bq – contained in the molten metal is minor.

“This is very, very low – nowhere near the radioactivity found in a nuclear power plant,” he said.

Still, firefighters set up a security perimeter around the facility.

E.D.F. spokesman said the furnace is used to destroy two types of low-level waste – “. combustible waste such as gloves or overalls technicians”, “scrap metal, tools and pumps,” and

He said the fire caused by the explosion had been “controlled.”

The French Interior Ministry said the workers were not contaminated. Nuclear Safety Authority, said one of the four are in serious condition.

The facility where the blast occurred is known as the Centraco – short for Centre Nucléaire et Traitement Conditioning – Socodei and is owned by a subsidiary of EDF is close to the nuclear research center at Marcoule, one of the oldest in France. Marcoule plant used to produce nuclear waste recycled MOX fuel for reactors.

Mr. Isnard, said initial evidence at the scene of Centraco show any changes in environmental radiation levels, and the refurbishment of the foundry building and ventilation system continues to function normally. Security sent a crisis team and a specialized group of firefighters to take air samples and soil foranlysis, he said.

Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, a French minister in charge of energy issues and the environment is expected to arrive on the scene Monday. His aides declined any immediate comment.

Cécile Duflot, French Green Party leader, called on the government “for greater transparency in real time, on the situation and the environmental and health consequences.”

France gets 77 percent of its electricity from nuclear power plants, a much higher proportion than in other major economies.

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