1 Dead, 1 Injured Following Explosion At Nuclear Waste Reprocessing Facility In Marcoule, France

Tyler Durden's picture

Update: NO CONTAMINATION FROM EXPLOSION AT FRENCH MARCOULE NUCLEAR SITE - FRENCH POLICE: RTRS... hopefully the accuracy here is better than at Fukushima

The following story is very fluid and we are following closely. Minutes earlier shares of french EDF have come under selling pressure following broad headlines of a explosion at a French nuclear power plant. Here is what we have found so far:

From Midi Libre

An oven exploded this morning at around 11 h 45 in the reprocessing of nuclear waste Centraco (Central Nuclear processing and packaging), based in Marcoule, among Chusclan Codolet and, in the Gard.


The explosion, which resulted in no radiation leak, a source close to the investigation, killed a man found burned and injured four others, including one critically. The latter was evacuated by emergency helicopter to University Hospital Lapeyronnie in Montpellier.


The three injured were taken slightly more to the hospital in Bagnols-sur-Ceze.


No measure of containment of radioactivity has been established in the surrounding villages. 


The police and firefighters at the scene of the accident at the time of writing.

From Reuters:

A furnace exploded at the Marcoule nuclear waste treatment site in southern France on Monday, killing one person, but there was no leak of radioactive material outside the furnace, France's ASN nuclear safety watchdog said.


Four other people were injured, one seriously, in the blast at the Centraco site, owned by French power utility EDF and adjacent to the Marcoule nuclear research center. The site does not house any nuclear reactors.


The furnace that exploded is used to melt waste with levels of radioactivity ranging from low to very high, ASN said.


It did not immediately give a reason for the blast but said it was completely contained within the furnace.


Police also said there was no contamination outside the site, which is about 30 km (18 miles) from the city of Avignon and about 80 km (50 miles) from the Mediterranean coast.


France -- the world's most nuclear-reliant country -- is carrying out stress tests on its 58 nuclear reactors in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster in Japan.

A litte more on Marcoule from Wikipedia:

Marcoule (French: Site nucléaire de Marcoule) is located in the Chusclan and Codolet French communes, near Bagnols-sur-Cèze in the Gard department, which is in the touristic, wine and agricultural Côtes-du-Rhône region.

Since 1956, Marcoule is a gigantic site exploited by the atomic energy organization Commissariat à l'Énergie Atomique (CEA) and Areva NC. The first industrial and military plutonium experiments took place in Marcoule. Diversification of the site was started in the 1970s with the creation of the Phénix prototype fast breeder reactor, and is nowadays an important site for decommissioning nuclear facilities activities.

Since 1995, the MELOX factory produces MOX from a mix of uranium and plutonium oxides. MOX is used to recycle plutonium from nuclear fuel; this plutonium comes from the COGEMA La Hague site.

The ATelier Alpha et Laboratoires pour ANalyses, Transuraniens et Etudes de retraitement (ATALANTE) is a CEA laboratory investigating the issues of nuclear reprocessing of nuclear fuel and of radioactive waste.


The site housed a number of the first generation French UNGG reactors, of which have all been shut down. Since then, it has also operated a pressurized water reactor that was used for the purpose of producing Tritium. Cooling for all of the plants has come from the Rhône river.


EDF Stock reaction:

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DefiantSurf's picture

no radiation leak? Really? Where have heard that before.....

Transitory Disinflation's picture

And there was I thinking that there would be some form of  fallout in the Chocozone on Monday morning........


Can anyone say "Merde"

wang's picture
wang (not verified) Wakanda Sep 12, 2011 8:24 AM

the BBG anchor Betty Loo(ser) just now:


"We're getting an update on that Nuclear Explosion in France.. We'll be right back"

Sabibaby's picture

"We'll be right back" after we talk figure out how to spin this.


Long Concrete

TaxSlave's picture

The first part of the spin was to leave out whether or not the oven is heated by natural gas or some other potentially explosive mixture.

If not, then the likelihood is quite high that it was a prompt criticality accident.

Not another Fukushima, but not good either.


Oh regional Indian's picture

Regardless of whether this is another Nuclear incident or not, just goes to show that this nuclear shit-show needs to shut down. Everywhere. It's a curse on humanity.

However good your engineering, MTBF is MT Between F, ultimately in-evitable. Look at the US, anyone payign attentiion to the Anna whatever plant in W.Va? Shaken by a 5.8 and in total trouble.

Likewise the Ofore (sp!) in CA.

Total mess, shut it all down.

Free Energy is a CURSE!



malikai's picture

Provided the building and it's scrubbers are still intact the likelihood of any leak making its way outside of the building seems quite remote. This is a fuel fabrication facility, these buildings are build to withstand criticality accidents which are far more severe.

The question stuck in my head is what exactly blew up? It seems hard to me to cause an explosion when you're fabricating fuel elements. Unless of course, you're dealing with impure inputs or said explosion is the result of a criticality accident. Anyway, this is all speculation until better info comes out.

sushi's picture

The question stuck in my head is what exactly blew up?


It was an oven. The one they were using to cook up the new batch of Eurobonds.

Sabibaby's picture

 Anyway, this is all speculation until better info comes out.


Hopefully the news that comes out doesn't take as long as it did at Fukushima. For the locals at least.

trav7777's picture

total trouble?   Really?

Based on what, your psychic powers?

Oh regional Indian's picture

Trav, we had this discussion during the beginnings of TEPCO. I remember saying it's Huge, you kept downplaying.

Some of us just know, can recognize a spade when we see it and call it as such.

I'm not saying this is another TEPCO, I'm just saying Nuclear power is a curse, all around, from mining to waste disposal and everythign in between. It needs to go and looks like it's dying it's own natural death. Good riddance.


malikai's picture

How do you reckon France will replace their 63GWe nuclear generating capacity? Do you think they will give up their effective energy independence?

Are you aware that this is just one of many accidents at French nuclear sites? They have even had a partial meltdown of their own, similar to TMI. Still, they forge on.

Ethics Gradient's picture

They did an experiment a while ago with British sheep. That seemed to release quite a lot of energy for only a small amount of petrol.

BorisTheBlade's picture

France derives 80% or so of the electricity from nuclear reactors, how is that possible to switch to any other source of energy - i don't believe renewables can do that, at the same time conventional sources i.e. nat gas and oil would send France into the trap: i.e. dependence on Middle Eastern politics, which are murky and constantly changing at best or dependence on Russia for nat gas supplies. If French have any sense, they will continue to develop nuclear industry, which despite its risks makes them relatively self-sufficient.

Oh regional Indian's picture

Rabbit hole here Boris. There are more ways to get out of this mess than I can count on my hands and feet.

It's the stranglehold of huge corps with these giant sunk costs and total regulatory capture that will not let anything come out.


BorisTheBlade's picture

I wonder how many of these ways do not assume abandoning industrial / post-industrial life standards in favour of picking up a shovel and going back to agrarian era. It is one thing to critisize something and quite another to suggest some viable alternative, As it stands, life standards are closely tied to energy production and resulting energy consumption per capita: http://bit.ly/qCcuw3

Maxter's picture

viable alternative = aneutronic fussion from the z-machine

there, you have it

BorisTheBlade's picture

Beautiful, except it is potentially decades away from commercial exploitation, but hell yeah, I pray they have a breakthrough.

Triggernometry's picture

Its not the technology, its the special interests that lobby politicians to extend operating licenses 20 years past the 40 year design life of nuclear facilities. MBTF is just a recommendation, and like any other recommendation, its only as good as how well it is followed. Ultimately, when safety is second to profit, failure is inevitable, no matter what technology is used.

Z Beeblebrox's picture

Would free energy really be a curse? In today's world, with its current control structure, it might be. Technology, starting with farming, has provided people with excess resources that have enabled a class-based society, including the psychos at the top who feel it is their right to rule the masses. If everyone had to work all day just to survive, there would be no extra resources for the ruling class to steal.

On the other side though is artificial scarcity, through war, regulation, and suppression of technologies that would help the common man. Allowing anyone to grow hemp would mean cheaper and better medicine, textiles, and other products than currently provided by big industry. Allowing free energy would also help the masses, because they would be getting a benefit that they are not relying on the system for. In this economy, where energy and wealth are almost synonymous, controlling energy flows, controlling fiat flows, and controlling information flows are probably the three biggest tools the ruling class have to shape society and maintain their power. If they were to allow free energy, they would need an alternate form of control, perhaps the control of food production and distribution. With all of the attacks on small farmers and gardeners, it seems they are working on this.

Bottom line, the ruling class needs to keep most of the world down to keep themselves up. Free energy has the potential to bring people up. If they are able to maintain scarcity of some sort, it doesn't matter, but as soon as people begin to prosper and have time to think for themselves and follow their own pursuits, rather than those given to them and adopted out of desperation to pay the bills, it's game over for the ruling class. They might be able to allow a bit more prosperity, given the advancing state of propaganda used to keep people locked into the society they dictate, but there's a fine line there.

sqz's picture

"nuclear explosion at a French power plant"

Haha, come on ZH, that's low even as a 'Freudian slip' ! :)

"explosion at a French nuclear power plant" s'il vous plait!

ZeroPower's picture

Spent some time in the Rhones Alps, in Grenoble. Lovely place, quite close to this Marcoule place. Glad to hear its contained, obvs nowhere close to the Fukushima level. 

dirtydroog's picture

Grenoble is one of the most scenic cities I've lived in. Very, very boring in the off season months

old naughty's picture

You are saying this is a tourist drawing stunt job? Hummmmm.

ZeroPower's picture

+1. Yes @ boring. Real action is in the places surrounding it, and the mountains all around in every direction.

GeneMarchbanks's picture

Woe breeds woe. At some point Tyler stops posting headlines, which means he's left the 'civilized' world. Proceed accordingly.

uno's picture

that is wierd, same comment as DefiantSerf, great minds

DefiantSurf's picture

didn't mean to be a thunder thief, just the first thing I thought of :)

uno's picture

me too, just like 3 mile island, Chernobyl, Fukushima etc... the PR playbook is deny and trivialize, nothing to see here move on

trav7777's picture

so what the fuck would they do if it were REALLY nothing to worry about?

You people waste no excuse to panic

Sudden Debt's picture

Some people call them great minds other call them INVOLVED TERRORISTS! :)

uno's picture

DHS code says

if (WHITE_MIDDLE_CLASS)  terrorist = true;

else terrorist = false;

Tense INDIAN's picture

some one said long before "Progress was looking more and more like destruction"...

LeBalance's picture

As per recent ZH comment:

"Mon, 09/12/2011 - 07:48 | papaswamp

Vote up!

Vote down!


Rumors circulating of a French govt take over of SoGen. The French....'How do we distract people so as not to notice financial problems?....hmmm....wait nuclear power plant problem..that's it!"



cossack55's picture

So TEPCO is advising the French. Hmmmmm.......

Overflow-admin's picture

No, TEPCO takes advice from the frenchies (you know, AREVA, who manages Marcoule). Does that explain better the fuku-daichi mess?

Sudden Debt's picture








malikai's picture

I believe #3 is only effective when your subject is the Japanese people. And I'm guessing the law of diminishing returns is at work even on that one.

I don't know what the French would replace it with, but I'm sure it would be just as hilarious.

Rylie's picture

The could use a mime pretending he's on fire

hedgeless_horseman's picture

The could use a mime pretending he's on fire

Captain Benny's picture

Well we're doing a great job at f'ing things up in the northern hemisphere.  Might be time to get prepared to head south.

freethinker4now's picture

I was only just doing research about moving to south of France. Scary

DefiantSurf's picture

When Germany takes over France, they'll shut down the nukes, no worries

Gully Foyle's picture

Wow, I just watched a French film, The Prey. Scary.

Well the movie was kind of dull, not scary at all.

On the positive side everyone looked to be adults not that teen shit we see in the US.

Oh and it had absolutely nothing to do with anything radioactive.

But it was French and it had some  scenes which may have included places near some kind of facility, except the prison and police stations which were pretty obvious.

But what an amazing coincidence that I could read something into something else totally unrelated.

Sudden Debt's picture