No leak reported after deadly explosion at French nuclear site


The four reactors of the Bugey's nuclear plant on August 29, 2011 in Saint-Vulbas, 35 Kms east of Lyon, central eastern France.


Jean-Pierre Clatot

An explosion at the Marcoule nuclear site in southern France killed one person and injured four others Monday, but no radiocative leak was reported.

A furnace reportedly exploded at the nuclear waste treatment site, which is owned by French power utility EDF and located about 50 miles from the Mediterranean coast. The furnace is used to burn low-grade radioactive waste such as rubber gloves and tools used in nuclear facilities, Dow Jones quotes an emergency management expert as saying.

But there was no leak of radioactive material, France's Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) told Reuters.

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Dow Jones says the fire that accompanied the explosion has been extinguished, and the building that houses the furnace isn't badly damaged.

EDF, the operator of France’s 58 nuclear power stations, said the blast had been "an industrial accident, not a nuclear accident," the BBC reports.

France is one of the most nuclear-reliant countries, with nuclear power providing 78 percent of electricity, according to the Financial Times. But "the French nuclear program does not have a stellar record of transparency," the BBC says.

Greenpeace has called on the French government for more transparency, the FT says, adding that the Marcoule site was not part of a post-Fukushima government review of nuclear sites.

“Yet again it shows that the government has not learned the lessons of Fukushima,” Yannick Rousselet of Greenpeace told the FT.