Officials have been quick to point out that there was no risk of a radioactive leak after the blast, which was caused by a fire near a furnace in the Centraco radioactive waste storage site.
The owner of the southern French plant, national electricity provider EDF, said it had been “an industrial accident, not a nuclear accident”. Well that is comforting for the family of the guy that died.
The cause of the blast was not yet known, said the company.
The explosion hit the area at 11:45 local time. A security cordon was set up as a precaution.
But interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet later said there had been no leak of radiation, neither inside nor outside the plant. Yeah we got that the forst time.
None of the injured workers was contaminated by radiation, said officials. The worker who died was killed by the blast and not by exposure to nuclear material. Yes – no radiation, we understand.
The Centraco treatment centre belongs to a subsidiary of EDF. It produces MOX fuel, which recycles plutonium from nuclear weapons. There are no nuclear reactors on site.
An EDF spokesman said blast happened in a furnace used to burn waste, including fuels, tools and clothing which had been used in nuclear energy production but had only very low levels of radiation.
“The fire caused by the explosion was under control,” he said. Another official later said the incident was over.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it was in touch with the French authorities to learn more about the nature of the explosion.
Marcoule was opened in 1955 and is one of France’s oldest nuclear sites, though it has been extensively modernised.
It is located in the Gard department in Languedoc-Roussillon region, near France’s Mediterranean coast.