ADAM EWING, THE LOCAL, SWEDEN, AUGUST 3, 2006
Some 20 years after Chernobyl’s devastating nuclear meltdown, possible faults at two Swedish facilities have led four of the nation’s 10 reactors to go offline.
Late on Wednesday night, OKG, the company operating the boiling water reactors in Oskarshamn, in southeast Sweden, decided to shutdown two of its three reactors after analysis showed their safety could not be guaranteed.
Oskarshamn nuclear plant (above) and port city (below)
The nuclear power industry in Sweden had a wake up call last week when the Forsmark nuclear plant, just north of Stockholm, faced a sudden stop at two of its three reactors.
The plant was heavily criticized by longtime nuclear power expert and former boss at Forsmark, Lars-Olov Höglund, who said, “Since the electricity supply from the network didn’t work as it should have, it could have been a catastrophe.”
He said without power the temperature would have been too high after 30 minutes and the reactor would have been damaged. Within two hours there would have been a meltdown
OKG decided not to take further risks.
“Since we cannot yet be certain that our station could cope with an incident like that in Forsmark we have decided to halt operations until we get clearance, or instructions on what needs to be improved,”said Anders Österberg, OKG spokesman. “The inspection will continue and we will make those changes needed.”
He said at 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday that after careful review there was good reason to turn off the two reactors.
Since the sudden stop last week, Forsmark, which said it did not recognize the faults detailed by Höglund, decided to shut down two of its reactors. Forsmark said one reactor was simply undergoing a yearly checkup.
Ringhals, the third nuclear power production facility located near Gothenburg, said it has found no reason to shut down any of its three pressurized water reactors or its one boiling water reactor.
The Ringhals nuclear power plant (above and below)
Anders Bredfell, spokesman at the Swedish Nuclear Power Inspectorate, told The Local that Höglund’s comments were a stretch.
“In our opinion it was probably an exaggeration,” Bredfell said regarding Höglund’s remarks on Tuesday. “I won’t say he is wrong, but he doesn’t have all of the facts. We agree it was a serious accident, but comparing it to Chernobyl was a bit over the top.”
Bredfell said his office would sit down early on Thursday morning and review the assessments done at all three production facilities and determine whether proper safety measures were taken.
Bredfell said the problems at Forsmark last week were caused by a short circuit outside the plant caused a flaw in the safety system. He said the plant has four diesel motors that are in place to produce the needed power to runt he plant and cool the reactors.
Last week two diesel motors failed to turn on, but the other two were there were sufficient to cool the reactors. He also said there is a gas generated motor separate from the plant that is the backup’s backup.
Sweden has been producing nuclear power since the early 1970s. The three production facilities now produce about half of the nation’s electricity.