Steam blast hurts two at France's Fessenheim nuclear plant

Fessenheim nuclear plant (file image)
Image caption The Fessenheim nuclear power station has been the target of anti-nuclear protests

A blast of escaping steam has triggered a fire alert at a French nuclear power station, officials said.

French power supplier EDF said two people were slightly burnt in the incident at the Fessenheim power station in eastern France.

Local officials said "oxygenated steam" was produced when hydrogen peroxide reacted with water in a reservoir.

But Energy Minister Delphine Batho insisted the incident posed no risk to public safety.

The power station, which has the oldest nuclear reactors in France, has been the target of regular anti-nuclear protests.

"It was not a fire, there was an outlet of oxygenated steam," the local prefecture said, quoted by the French AFP news agency.

'Maintenance operation'

EDF said the escape had triggered the fire alarms but first reports of a blaze were unfounded.

It said the two workers injured had been "slightly burnt through their gloves".

"It was a problem that cropped up during a maintenance operation," it said, in an "auxiliary building in the nuclear complex but not in the building housing the reactor."

AFP also quoted Jean-Luc Cardoso, an official with the CGT union at the plant, as saying: "There was no fire, no death and two colleagues were slightly injured."

The fire service said about 50 firefighters had been deployed.

In a statement, Ms Batho said she had asked EDF and nuclear safety watchdog ASN to produce a report on the incident that will be made public, reported Reuters news agency.

Fessenheim, which is close to France's borders with Germany and Switzerland, opened in 1977 and draws water for cooling from the Rhine.

However, it has been mired in controversy largely due to its location which makes it vulnerable to seismic activity and flooding and is provisionally scheduled to close in 2017, reports said.

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