Photo: flickr user: kmaschke
Sky News is citing an AFP wires report that there has been a blast at a nuclear site in France and there is risk of a leak.UPDATE: The BBC’s Patrick Jackson reports that the incident is at Marcoule site, located in South France at the Gard department.
According to France 3 – Languedoc-Roussillon , there would be one dead and three wounded. The accident reportedly occurred following a fire in a storage site for radioactive waste. A security cordon is in place.
UPDATE 2: Midi Libre reports that “an oven” exploded during the processing of nuclear waste.
UPDATE 3: It looks like Marcoule was in the process of being decommissioned. From the World Nuclear Association:
The French Atomic Energy Commission is decommissioning the UP1 reprocessing plant at Marcoule. This plant started up in 1958 and treated 18,600 tonnes of metal fuels from gas-cooled reactors (both defence and civil) to 1997. Progressive decontamination and dismantling of the plant and waste treatment will span 40 years and cost some EUR 5.6 billion, nearly half of this for treatment of the wastes stored on the site.
Areva will decommission the Eurodif enrichment plant at Marcoule from the end of 2012. This will involve over 2012-15 the decontamination with ClF3 gas to remove the residual uranium left inside, and extract it as UF6, then recovery of all produced chloride and fluoride gas before the opening of equipments and circuits. Then over 2016-25 the plant will be dismantled.
UPDATE 5: Christophe Bauer of France 24 has tweeted word from French nuclear authorities that there is no leak at the site “at this time”.
UPDATE 6: Apparently this isn’t the first incident at the site. Rue 89 reports that last March an incident happened that the ASN (France’s nuclear agency) was the result of “the failure of several safety requirements of the installation.”
Rue 89 also clarifies the work done at the plant:
“This plant produces MOX fuel from a mixture of uranium and plutonium, which recycles a portion of the plutonium from spent fuel from nuclear power plants.“
The site does not appear to contain active nuclear reactors.
UPDATE 7: CNBC reports that EDF is confirming there has been no leak.
UPDATE 8: Looks like the fears of a larger crisis have ended. However, check out this analysis of the political fallout from the Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal:
The real fallout in the case could come from the lingering feeling that France’s nuclear miracle faces a generational challenge it may not overcome. The accident also highlights that nuclear power requires long-term solutions to its waste problems, solutions that in themselves can spawn new fears.
Richard Black of the BBC has more analysis and a history of the site.
Looks like that’s it for now but we’ll put up more when it comes out.
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