14 Ekim 2011 Cuma

French nuclear blast no big deal: Minister

Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Gökhan Kurtaran
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News

France is ‘interested’ in Turkey’s plans to construct two or three nuclear power plant, French Minister Besson says a day after nuclear blast in south France. AA photo

Monday’s explosion at a French nuclear-waste processing plant may have invoked terrible memories of Chernobyl in the minds of millions, but it did not faze a top French Cabinet minister.

The blast at the Marcoule nuclear site was only an “industrial accident,” Eric Besson, the French minister in charge of industry, energy and digital economy, told the Hürriyet Daily News in an interview Tuesday in Istanbul, downplaying the incident that killed one person and injured four.

“The accident was minor and caused no leakage or radioactive problem,” Besson said, speaking on the sidelines of his talks with Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan during the G-20 Conference on Commodity Price Volatility.

“The blast happened at a furnace used to burn waste, including fuels that had been used in nuclear energy production. [The furnace] had very low level of radiation,” the minister said, adding that the accident was “not nuclear, but industrial.” Still, he said, France will start a new stress test for its nuclear plants soon.

France eyeing Turkish nuclear tenders
Besson also told the Daily News that France is “interested” in Turkey’s plans to construct two or three nuclear power plants, which he said he discussed with Babacan on Tuesday morning. “France is still interested in taking part in Turkey’s nuclear plans. Of course, the final decision will be made by the Turkish government,” the French minister said.

In July 29, Tepco, the Japanese operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, withdrew from Japan’s bid to build Turkey’s second planned nuclear plant, in the country’s Black Sea region.

Speaking to the Daily News, Besson also commented on the debt crisis in the eurozone, which has been sending investors fleeing from French banks, including Societe Generale and BNP Paribas. The markets fear that these banks are holding significant amounts of peripheral eurozone debt, which remains on shaky foundations.

The minister said French banks were “safe,” adding that they have been “victims of speculation” in the market. His statement comes as investors are expecting a credit downgrade of French lenders from rating agency Moody’s. Regarding Greece’s moves to deal with the crisis, Besson said Paris would continue to “support Greek policies, reforms and measures.”

Babacan meanwhile reiterated that Turkey would be “minimally affected” by the global economic turmoil. “We are ready for all the scenarios regarding the eurozone crisis,” he told journalists, adding that the country should be ready for “a possible earthquake” related to the crisis. “If an earthquake happens to your neighbors, the shocks also affect you,” he said.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011

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