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Marcoule Nuclear Site is a nuclear plant in the Chusclan and Codolet communes, near Bagnols-sur-Cèze in the Gard department of France, which is in the touristic, wine and agricultural Côtes-du-Rhône region. The plant is around 25 km north west of Avignon, on the banks of the Rhone. Operational since 1956, Marcoule is a gigantic site run by the atomic energy organization Commissariat à l'Énergie Atomique and Areva NC and is known as CEA VALRHO Marcoule. The first industrial and military plutonium experiments took place in Marcoule. Diversification of the site was started in the 1970s with the creation of the Phénix prototype fast breeder reactor, which was operational until 2009, and is nowadays an important site for decommissioning nuclear facilities activities. The Phénix reactor is likely to be succeeded by the sodium-cooled fast reactor ASTRID in the 2015-2020 time frame. Since 1995, the MELOX factory has been producing MOX from a mix of uranium and plutonium oxides. MOX is used to recycle plutonium from nuclear fuel; this plutonium comes from the COGEMA La Hague site. The ATelier Alpha et Laboratoires pour ANalyses, Transuraniens et Etudes de retraitement is a CEA laboratory investigating the issues of nuclear reprocessing of nuclear fuel and of radioactive waste. (via Freebase)