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EDF shuts down nuclear plant after strong earthquake in southern France

12 November 2019

A 5.1 magnitude earthquake centred in the southern Ardeche department on November 11 has caused French electricity utility EDF to shut down three reactors at its Cruas nuclear power station and run checks at the Tricastin nuclear plant and facility.

Cruas NPP - Image: EDF
Cruas NPP - Image: EDF

Four people were injured in the earthquake, one seriously, and it was reportedly felt widely across the Ardeche and neighbouring Drome departments. Initial assessments showed several hundred homes had been damaged, according to L’Usine Nouvelle.

A spokesman for EDF said the fourth reactor at Cruas was closed for maintenance, and one of the four Tricastin reactors was also closed due to an unplanned outage.

The epicentre was below Le Teil, about 10 km from Cruas and 30 km from Tricastin.

EDF said initial checks did not find any obvious damage, but the vibrations at Cruas had been at a level where further checks were required. At Tricastin, the vibration trigger warning threshold was not reached.

The French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) said some facilities at the Orano (formerly Areva) nuclear site at Tricastin, adjacent to EDF’s power plant, had been temporarily stopped, but not for safety reasons.

ASN said it would oversee restart procedures for all affected nuclear facilities in the Rhone valley.

Following the earthquake, the Drome prefecture announced checks on structures, buildings, factories and especially Seveso high hazard sites across the department that may present a potential risk.

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