Bloomberg News

EDF Underestimated Radioactivity in Deadly Waste-Site Explosion

September 29, 2011

Sept. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Electricite de France SA, Europe’s biggest power producer, underestimated radioactivity levels in a furnace that exploded at a waste-processing site this month, killing one and injuring four, the nuclear watchdog said.

EDF has been told to explain how it gave incorrect data, Autorite de Surete Nucleaire said in a statement, adding that the immediate environment and population were unaffected by the events. The watchdog had previously sought safety improvements at the facility, while allowing it to continue to operate.

The regulator gave the incident a rating of level 1 on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale. In contrast, the Fukushima Dai-Ichi and Chernobyl events were rated level 7.

French authorities are still investigating the Sept. 12 accident at EDF’s Centraco plant in southern France. One of the injured workers, none of whom were contaminated with radiation, remains in hospital, according to the nuclear watchdog.

Some 4 metric tons of metal with 30 million becquerels of radioactivity was in the melting furnace of the plant at the time of the accident, it said. The operator had initially said the level of radioactivity was 63,000 becquerels.

“It was a serious industrial accident,” the authority said, adding that it has given approval for furnaces at the site to be restarted after closing them following the accident.

--Editor: Tony Barrett, Stephen Cunningham

To contact the reporter on this story: Tara Patel in Paris at tpatel2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at wkennedy3@bloomberg.net


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