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Greenpeace report slams Swedish nuclear plants

Greenpeace report slams Swedish nuclear plants

Published: 02 Oct 2012 15:57 GMT+02:00
Updated: 02 Oct 2012 15:57 GMT+02:00

Security risks at Sweden’s nuclear power plants are so high that the facilities should all be taken out of operation, according to a new report from environment organization Greenpeace.

“We are killing off the myth that Swedish nuclear power is safe. Swedish power plants are old, have great security risks, there is a lack of both personnel and skills and a large number of incidents are occurring,” said Rolf Lindahl, who has worked on the report, to daily Svenska Dagbladet (SvD).

Swedish nuclear power plants were built in the 1970 and 80s. Today, all efforts are put into making them produce more energy, which is leading to strain on the facilities.

“With old reactors one should put all efforts into guaranteeing safety, but it would seem as if the primary goal is the financial gains and that they are taking chances when it comes to security,” said Lindahl to SvD.

Power plant Ringhals has previously been slammed for not having enough protection against earthquakes and floods. The new report reveals that Sweden’s other two wouldn’t be able to withstand natural disasters, according to the paper.

Forsmark, north of Uppsala on the eastern coast, could only take a rise in water levels of 2.5 metres before its diesel generators would be put out of commission.

Oskarshamn, in southern Sweden, would be in serious trouble in a situation where electricity and the ability to control the temperature is wiped out. The protection against terrorist attacks is also bad, concludes the report.

The report states that several incidents go unreported and have had foreign scientists analyse the stress tests that the EU carried out on Swedish plants in the wake of the Fukushima disaster of 2011.

Scientists from the Max Planck institute in Mainz have come to the conclusion that there is a much higher risk of meltdown than had previously been expected.

“We can expect these kinds of nuclear disasters every 10th to 20th year – 200 times more frequent than was previously believed,” the report said.

But Leif Karlsson of the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (Strålsäkerhetsmyndigheten) does not agree with the findings of the report:

“Swedish nuclear power plants are safe. If we think they aren’t - we shut them down. Ringhals has come under special observation after we identified issues with their safety work. Oskarshamn is due to show their new measures in October,” said Karlsson to SvD.

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Your comments about this article

17:49 October 2, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
So it looks like the EU already conducted tests after Fukushima in 2011 and made several recommendations, and that these are now being implemented, with some operational improvements ready to show in October.

What is missing in this article is a clear basis for the 'meltdown every 10 or 20 years claim'. When was the last time Sweden had a 'major' earthquake? What is the probablity of a 2.5 meter deep flood or 2.5 meter rise in the Baltic sea level in that particular area near Uppsala? The once every 10 to 20 years rate would have been expected to lead to 2 to 5 meltdowns by now in Sweden, if the probability of meltdowns is constant with this reactor technology, and if they meant Sweden, rather than the world as a whole.

Pull some Swedish army personel away from their wargames for secutiry rotations aound the reactors, and place a few Swedish navy ships offshore to enforce exclusion zones, and we can then transition to solar cells and wind farms as the price for these become reasonable, rather the filling the skies with coal dust.
19:14 October 2, 2012 by Hisingen
- - -Greenpeace report slams Swedish nuclear plants - - -

Well, they would, wouldn't they. They would just love to see the whole country covered in windmills. Windmills that stand still when they are most needed. Windmills that are subsidised from their foundations up to the lights on the top. Windmills that could never produce enough power to ever replace even a coal-fired power station running at half output.
01:25 October 3, 2012 by Eric1
If Greenpeace got it's way on everything they want, most of the world's population would die of starvation, war, and poverty.
02:23 October 3, 2012 by Tiny Red Ant
No surprise on that issue. Instead of whining like 1960's hippies Greenpeace should help find solutions.
07:20 October 3, 2012 by jackityjack
@Hisingen

Your arguments are weak and argument style underhand:

"They would just love to see the whole country covered in windmills"

This is a classic sneaky straw man argument and it undermines your point. Nowhere is is claimed that that whole country should be "covered in windmills". In their Energy [R]evolution 2012 Report Greenpeace suggest a blend of renewable energies.

"Windmills that stand still when they are most needed."¨

Again, a sneaky argument that doesn't hold up when examined. Why are windmills needed especially more than when they are standing still? Yes, the wind doesn't always blow (any more than a Nuclear power station doesn't always operate) but energy can be stored for later use. Again a blend of renewables is the best solution.

"Windmills that are subsidised from their foundations up to the lights on the top."

If you are concerned with energy subsidies for renewable energy projects then why not equally concerned about the subsides granted to nuclear and fossil fuel energy projects?

"Windmills that could never produce enough power to ever replace even a coal-fired power station running at half output."

You might be interested that this year Germany produced as much energy from solar sources as they equivalent of 20 nuclear power stations running at full capacity. http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2012/05/29/3513573.htm While neither wind nor solar alone is the answer to Sweden's energy needs and blend of wind, solar and hydro has the potential to more than satisfy our requirements.
21:14 October 3, 2012 by Rat bat
What a load of rubbish from Greenpeace ! Frankly I hoped that they could do better !

I think it is worth point out a few things about Swedish nuclear plants, in common with Swiss nuclear plants a Swedish nuclear power reactor has a water filled scrubber which is like the hookah pipe's water wash bottle will clean the air which has to be vented if a containment has to be vented.

As a result the vast majority of the radioactive muck will be retained within the plant, while an accident might totally write off the reactor the release to the outside world will be small. It is also worth while point out that the scrubber mix contained sodium thiosulfate which will stop the bulk of the iodine escaping.

The Fukushima plant lacked this feature, if it had been present then it would have made the accident far smaller.

Also the chance of a big earthquake in Sweden is very low. I have been inside several Swedish nuclear sites and I can tell you that security is very strict. Even at a disused reactor site which has no fuel on site the security is strict. The security at the central waste store and a current power reactor site is even tighter.
22:06 October 6, 2012 by pearldrummer
well said jackityjack :)
03:38 October 7, 2012 by Rober2D2
@Reason abd Realism

The "once every 10-20 years" rate is worldwide, not for Sweden. The first commercial reactor was built in 1957. We have had 5 core meltdowns since then (TMI, Chernobyl and the 3 of Fukushima). Once each 11 years
09:16 October 7, 2012 by Rat bat
Well Rober2D2

Trust me (I have specialist training in the field) the Chernobyl event was not a melt down it was a power surge in a very poorly designed Soviet reactor. While fuel melting occured in 1986 at Chernobyl it was a secondary effect of the accident which was not the cause so calling Chernobyl a meltdown is wrong. It was a reactivity accident (RIA) which can turn out in a more nasty way.

TMI and Fukushima were all loss of cooling accidents (LOCA), LOCA accidents progress more slowly and are far less dangerous than a RIA. A RIA is like throwing your freezer out the window from the top floor of a tower block while a LOCA is more like unplugging the freezer.

Both events will ruin the food but dropping the freezer out the window is much more likely to kill people, also dropping the freezer will release much more spoiled food into the environment when the freezer bursts open.

It is important to note that neither TMI or Fukushima killed a single worker with radiation / radioactivity. The only people who died at Fukushima died as a result of radiophobia, I recall that some people from hospitals died becuase they were left without food / water / medical care for too long by the staff.

Chernobyl did kill plant workers and other people who were working on the reactor site. Do not get sucked into the trap of thinking that the events were similar, I know that some of the antinuclear greens think that all the events were the same in terms of the effects.
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