An explosion at a nuclear waste treatment site in France killed one person today and injured several others. The explosion occurred at the Centraco plant located in the Marcoule nuclear site near Marseille on the Mediterranean Sea. The treatment facility claims there were no subsequent radioactive leaks. A fire in a furnace is said to have caused the blast, and it is reported to be contained.
The Marcoule site has been open since 1956. It is used to treat nuclear waste, and it is currently run by the electricity company, EDF. It produces a highly flammable fuel called MOX, which is used to break down and recycle plutonium from nuclear weapons. According to the Atomic Energy Commission of France, the explosion was not in close proximity to nuclear reactors. It was within a furnace used to break down waste, and it is not creating radioactive leakage. A representative for the Agency for Nuclear Safety, Evangelia Petit, confirmed the blast to Associated Press, but did not comment on any details other than the one casualty and four injuries. Further information is being sought by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
France is one of the world’s most nuclear-dependent countries, deriving 70 percent of their energy needs from nuclear energy. Their 58 nuclear reactors are under review since the Fukushima disaster earlier this year in Japan.
EDF, the electric company who owns the Centraco site, has seen a 6 percent decrease in their prices of shares since the blast this morning.