Explosion at French nuclear plant
14 September 2011
The safety of French nuclear power plants has been seriously undermined by the explosion at a waste processing plant on Monday 12 September which killed one worker and injured four others.
The explosion happened at the Marcoule facility near Nimes in southern France when an oven used to burn nuclear waste exploded. The site, partly operated by an EDF subsidiary, stores large quantities of radioactive waste and produces mixed oxide (MOX) reactor fuel containing plutonium. There are also a number of decommissioned reactors from the early years of the French nuclear programme. It is still unclear whether any radioactive materials leaked during the accident.
An EDF spokesman was quoted in the Guardian as saying: "According to our initial information it was an explosion in an oven used to melt metallic radioactive waste of a low level radioactivity." The price of shares in EDF fell 6% on the Paris stock exchange after the news was announced.
Stop Hinkley responded with the following statement:
"The accident in France is a sobering reminder of what can go wrong when a country commits itself so heavily to nuclear power, including all the problems associated with handling radioactive waste. Yet we are now proposing to import French technology to Hinkley Point and store waste there for 100 years or more.
After Fukushima in Japan this accident serves as yet another tragic reminder of the dangers of nuclear power and the urgent need for the UK government to follow the lead taken by Germany in phasing it out."
Brief history of accidents at EDF nuclear sites in France