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Accident At French Nuclear Site

  • September 14th, 2011
  • Posted by EUEditor

marcoule.jpgNuclear jitters settled on France with a fatal explosion (12.9.11)  at the Marcoule power station on the Rhone River, near Avignon.

ASSURANCES

Radio France Internationale on Tuesday was able to affirm that the event was more an “industrial accident” than a nuclear disaster, as the government in Paris was insisting.

“Both the state nuclear regulator, ASN, and national electricity provider EDF insist there have been no leaks either radioactive or chemical from the site of the blast”, it reported.

“The ASN said it appears that a furnace used to recycle metals with low levels of radioactivity had exploded. A subsequent blaze has been brought under control.

“Following the blast, shares in EDF fell six per cent.”

It confirmed at least one person died and four more were injured, one critically, after an explosion in a furnace used to melt down radioactive material – the waste materials at that time being at low levels of radiation.

EUROPE’S NUCLEAR ALERT

Four months ago the European Union launched its comprehensive nuclear safety review, and an agreement on new standards for protection, provoked by the crisis at the Fukushima complex in Japan – hit by an earthquake and tsunami last March.

It did not mandate proposed controls on standards, to intensify protection against terrorist attacks; a concession demanded by the French and British governments, which said they wanted to safeguard their legal responsibility for crime matters.

Both were holding to their commitments to nuclear electricity, in the face of intense public concern: going against a shutdown policy taken up by other governments, headed by Switzerland, and Germany, which set about a full closing down of the industry by 2022.

See EUAustralia Online: “Swiss nuclear decision”, 27.5.11; “German nuclear decision”, 31.5.11; “Japan’s nuclear crisis”, 11.6.11.

 

NUCLEAR PLANTS ALONG THE RHONE

marcoule-2.jpgMarcoule is a refurbished nuclear plant, initially one of the first generation of such power stations, the object of intense scrutiny like other famous installations along the Rhone, coursing through the centre of France:

The Superphoenix fast breeder reactor plant at Creys-Malville, east of Lyon near the Swiss border, was put into service in the 1970s in the face of intense opposition from a growing anti-nuclear movement – and was decommissioned in 1997.

The Cruas plant next to the river near the town of Montelimar, otherwise known for some good local cuisine and its nougat shops, was constructed later in the same era, again attended by local protest.

The Greenpeace organisation said this week the accident at Marcoule showed up the risks of nuclear energy, and France ought to be making a choice between high-risk energy production and renewable options.

Reference

John Lichfield, “France on the edge after accident at nuclear site”, The Independent, London, 13.9.11. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/france-on-edge-after-accident-at-nuclear-site-2353692.html, (13.9.1).

RFI / (Reuters), Paris, “No radiation leak at Marcoule, says French government”, 13.9.11. http://www.english.rfi.fr/france/20110912-fears-radiation-link-after-fatal-explosion-nuclear-plant-southern-france, (13.9.11).

UPI, Washington, “Learn from Marcoule, Greenpeace says”, 13.9.11. http://www.upi.com/Business_News/Energy-Resources/2011/09/13/Learn-from-Marcoule-Greenpeace-says/UPI-86611315916281/#ixzz1XqFvuGJq, (13.9.11).

Pictures

Marcoule – rfi, globalsecurity.org

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