Explosion at French nuclear plant

nuclear

An explosion at a nuclear power plant on France’s northwest coast on Thursday caused minor injuries, but the authorities said there was no risk of radiation.

The blast took place in the engine room at the Flamanville plant, which lies 25 kilometres west of the port of Cherbourg and just across from the Channel Islands.

“It is a technical incident. It is not a nuclear accident,” senior local official Jacques Witkowski stated. He said a ventilator had exploded outside the nuclear zone at the plant, which has been in operation since the 1980s and is operated by state-controlled energy giant EDF.

“It’s all over. The emergency teams are leaving,” Witkowski said.

Five people suffered smoke inhalation but there were no serious injuries, Witkowski said.

One of the two pressurised water reactors at the plant was shut down after the explosion and the incident was declared over at 1100 GMT, the authorities said.

The two 1,300 megawatt reactors have been in service since 1985 and 1986, and the site currently employs 810 people, alongside an additional 350 subcontractors.

A new third-generation reactor known as EPR is being built at Flamanville, which will be the world’s largest when it goes into operation in late 2018.

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