The French are describing an explosion at a nuclear waste treatment plant as an industrial rather than nuclear accident, and insist there is no danger to the public.
An oven used to melt down what is described as low level radioactive metallic waste exploded, killing one worker and injuring four others, one seriously.
The accident hit the Centraco plant in Codolet in the Rhone valley, which services several of the many nuclear reactors situated on the major river.
State power company EDF runs the country’s nuclear power plants, but subcontracts waste management. The International Atomic Energy Agency is monitoring the situation.
“This is at a very early stage and information is limited for now. We are now requesting information,” said IAEA boss Yukiya Amano.
The treatment centre is close to the Marcoule nuclear power plant, and a state of emergency was quickly lifted when the authorities announced there was no leak of radioactivity.