Monday, September 12, 2011

French nuclear officials downplay risks from blast

An explosion at a nuclear waste-management site at the Marcoule complex in southeastern France on Monday has killed at least one man, but the country's nuclear safety agency says there was no leak of radioactive material at one of the country's oldest nuclear facilities.

Four people were also injured in the explosion, which occurred around 12:37 p.m. local time. One person was seriously injured and has been airlifted to a hospital in Montpellier, while three others were taken to a local hospital, according to reports.

No names have been released.

The Agency for Nuclear Safety (ANS) said the explosion was set off by a fire near a furnace at the Centraco facility, a centre for processing and conditioning low-level radioactive waste that is situated at the massive Marcoule complex.

The accident was under control within the hour, the agency said in a statement.

"According to initial information, the explosion happened in an oven used to melt radioactive metallic waste of little and very little radioactivity," the statement said. "There have been no leaks outside of the site."

The Marcoule site does not house any nuclear power reactors.

Marcoule is located in the Gard region of France, in Languedoc-Roussillon, near the Mediterranean Sea.

No evacuation notice was given to the local area but a security perimeter around the site has been established, according to reports. more