Saturday, July 9, 2011

French Nuclear Power Plant Explosion Heightens Safety Fears

Blast at EDF's Tricastin power station in Drôme comes days after nuclear authorities found 32 safety concerns at plant

An explosion sparked a fire at a French nuclear power station on Saturday, just two days after the authorities found 32 safety concerns at the plant.

The blaze at the Tricastin plant in Drôme in the Rhône valley sent a thick cloud of black smoke into the sky. A mistral wind sent it south over a nearby motorway on one of the busiest travel days of the year as the French left for their summer holidays.

EDF, which runs the power station, said the incident took place in an electric transformer situated in the non-nuclear part of the plant and had not resulted in any radiation leak or any other contamination. A statement issued by the energy giant raised further concerns as it omitted to mention the explosion – only a fire – and did not give the cause of the blaze.

"This event happened in the non-nuclear part of the installation and had no radiological consequence on the environment and the population. The fire brigade was immediately called and the fire was rapidly brought under control. Nobody was hurt," it said.

EDF added that the plant's number one reactor was not in operation at the time of the fire, having been "closed for its annual maintenance". Police confirmed there was no environmental contamination.

On Thursday France's nuclear safety authority, the Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN), demanded 32 safety measures at the Tricastin number one reactor, a 900MW water pressurised reactor built in 1974 and put into operation in 1980. More >>>

All such incidents strengthen my arguments that the industry must be regulated by governments to ensure adequate human security. Editor

Location: Cayman Islands

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