Chemical Reaction at French Nuke

Thursday, September 6, 2012 @ 05:09 PM gHale


A chemical reaction at the Fessenheim nuclear power plant in eastern France injured several people and triggered a brief fire alert Wednesday, officials said.

The incident, sparked by a chemical reaction, quickly came under control, the officials at the local government prefecture office and the fire services said.

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At the origin of their injuries was a release of hydrogen peroxide vapor, “following the injection of hydrogen peroxide in a tank,” said Europe 1 prefecture of Haut-Rhin.

French power utility EDF, which operates the plant, said there had been a steam leak there but denied initial reports from the local fire brigade that a fire had broken out.

“No fire broke out,” an EDF spokeswoman said. “Steam escaped during a maintenance operation which set off the fire alarm,” she said, adding that the incident hurt two EDF staff.

Fessenheim, France’s oldest nuclear power plant, has two reactors that went into service in the 1970s. It operates in the Alsace region of France.

There are two 900 megawatt reactors at Fessenheim, which started up in 1977 and is on tap to shut down in the coming decade according to pledges made by Francois Hollande during this year’s French presidential election.

Environmentalists have raising concerns about the plant, especially since a nuclear accident caused by an earthquake in Fukushima, Japan, in 2011.

The plant is within 15 miles of towns in France, Switzerland, and Germany which have a combined population of 100,000.

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy frequently pledged to keep Fessenheim open, saying closure would come “at the cost of jobs in the nuclear industry, the cost of our industrial competitiveness and the cost of our energy independence.”

Hollande promised to reduce France’s reliance on nuclear energy from 75 percent to 50 percent by shutting down 24 reactors by 2025.



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