French nuke site explosion kills one
The Centraco nuclear site was rocked by an explosion that killed one and injured four people.
Paris: The Centraco nuclear site in Southern France was on Monday rocked by an explosion that killed one and injured four people, France`s nuclear safety watchdog said.
Out of the four injured, one was seriously injured while the remaining three suffered lesser injuries.
Though the media reports earlier, were hinting at a possible risk of radiation leakage, the Nuclear Safety Authority confirmed that no radioactive leakage was detected and that the blast took place in an oven used to melt nuclear wastes.
"According to initial information, the explosion happened in an oven used to melt radioactive metallic waste of little and very little radioactivity," the agency said in a statement.
The Centraco site is situated near the Marcoule nuclear plant which is located in Langedoc Roussillon, in southern France, near the Mediterranean Sea.
Centraco is operated by a subsidiary of EDF, the power company that caters to the nation`s electricity needs.
EDF`s spokeswoman Carole Trivi said, "a fire broke out after the explosion, but it has since been brought under control".
She clarified that no waste treated at the site of explosion came from a reactor as there were no nuclear reactors at the site.
The cause of the blast was not immediately known, and an investigation has been opened, Trivi said.
With France being a country hugely dependent on the nuclear energy for electricity, all the fifty-eight nuclear reactors of the country had been put through stress tests in the aftermath of Fukushima N-plant disaster faced by Japan.
France is also a major exporter of nuclear power, treats nuclear waste from around the world, and state-owned nuclear giant Areva is one of the country`s most prominent companies.
The kind of soul-searching about using nuclear power that swept the world following Japan`s March 11 tsunami and the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant have been largely absent in France, which has stuck firmly to its pro-nuclear policy.
In June, President Nicolas Sarkozy pledged that France will stick to a plan to invest euro1 billion ($1.37 billion) in future nuclear reactors.
By contrast, neighboring Germany took eight of its older reactors off the grid in the wake of the Japanese disaster and lawmakers have voted to shut the country`s nine remaining nuclear plants by 2022.
Still, French environmentalists have long called for the end to the country`s nuclear program, and the Europe Ecology-Greens party urged transparency in responding to Monday`s accident.
With agencies` inputs