Explosion at French waste site

12 September 2011


UPDATE 1: 2.10pm BST: Background on the facility

UPDATE 2: 3.36pm BST: Clarification on location of event

UPDATE 3: 5.03pm BST: Confirmation of no radiological release

UPDATE 4: 5.20pm BST: Further detail from ASN

A worker was killed today by an explosion in a furnace used to prepare contaminated metal for disposal.


The first details of the event came from the French nuclear safety regulator, the ASN. It said that the incident occurred at the Centraco facility where low-level radiaoctive wastes are prepared and packed for disposal. The explosion of a furnace used to melt scrap metal triggered a fire, which was extinguished by 1.00pm.


ASN's first assessment was that one worker was killed and four more injured, one of whom suffered deep burns and was taken to hospital by helicopter. There was no chemical or radioactive release and none of the injured were contaminated. Local authorities and emergency centres were contacted but no action was required.


The items processed at Centraco include used equipment, components, filters and clothing from power plants, universities, research sites and hospitals. The facility is owned by the EDF subsidiary Socodei and located in the commune of Codolet, adjacent to but separate from the CEA's Marcoule nuclear research site.


Centraco, adjacent to Marcoule


The furnace affected was used to to melt scrap metal structural components, pumps, valves and tools made of stainless steel or carbon steel that are lightly contaminated with short-lived and very-low-level radioactivity. 


The melting unit has an annual capacity of 1500 tonnes of scrap metal, which can be boosted to 4500 tonnes per year by operating it on a continuous schedule. The metal ingots it produces have a volume around 10% of the original scrap and are sent for permanent disposal in at Andra's near-surface facility at Aube.
Researched and written

by World Nuclear News