Spain's nuclear authorities monitoring French accident

Campaigners warn of lack of transparency regarding possible radioactive leak

Monday's blast at the nuclear site of Marcoule, in southeastern France, is not putting Spanish territory at risk, according to officials. Still, authorities are following developments closely because, as experts admitted, radioactivity "knows no borders."

The Spanish radioactive control network did not detect any variation in measurements following Monday morning's accident, which killed one worker and wounded another four. The French company said there were no radioactive leaks at the site.

The incident occurred when a furnace exploded at a treatment plant for low or very low radioactive waste owned by Socodei, a branch of French electricity company EDF, and located outside Marcoule on the banks of the Rhône. There is no power plant at Marcoule, although France's Center for Atomic Energy conducts research there. Open since 1956, it is one of France's major nuclear facilities.

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The Spanish Nuclear Safety Council is following events at the site of the blast, which took place 280 kilometers from the border with Catalonia, where regional authorities have activated a preventive pre-alert plan.

Meanwhile, the environmentalist group EQUO said that the messages of calm sent out by the nuclear industry should be taken with a grain of salt, because they always tend to "minimize" these types of incidents.

EQUO's spokesman, Juan López de Uralde, a former Greenpeace director, said that the nuclear industry is "notorious for its lack of transparency" and noted that the blast took place "in the heart of the industry," at one of France's main nuclear sites, and "without a tsunami or an apparent natural cause to justify it."

The green group said that this represents "a new failure of the nuclear industry," which should "disappear" because of the dangers it poses.

Francisco Castejón, of the green group Ecologists in Action, said that this accident "questions the entire fuel recycling program" that the industry is based on due to an imminent shortage of uranium. Although Castejón admitted there are no indications of a massive leak, he said that "radioactivity knows no borders."

French authorities said they are investigating the cause of the blast.

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