EDF Says Fires at Penly Nuclear Reactor Extinguished

Electricite de France SA, the biggest operator of nuclear reactors, said two fires were put out in their early stages at its Penly plant in Normandy.

It didn’t say what caused the blazes and where they started. No casualties or damage to the environment were reported. Unit 2 shut down automatically after smoke was detected in the reactor building, the Paris-based company said today on its website.

Earlier, data on the website of Reseau de Transport d’Electricite, the French grid operator, showed that EDF halted the 1,330-megawatt reactor at 12:20 p.m. local time.

There are two reactors at the site in northern France. Penly-1 was generating normally this morning, according to the latest data available.

The fire comes as the future of nuclear energy in France has sparked debate between President Nicolas Sarkozy and his Socialist Party rival Francois Hollande ahead of presidential elections this month and next. Sarkozy backs atomic power while Hollande is seeking to reduce France’s dependence on atomic energy and close the country’s oldest plants.

An explosion and fire at an EDF nuclear-waste processing plant in the town of Codolet in southern France in September killed one person and injured four, heightening concern of safety risks from atomic energy following last year’s Fukushima disaster in Japan.

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