Nuclear plant ‘could have gone into meltdown’

The sudden stop at the Forsmark nuclear power plant just north of Stockholm was the most dangerous international nuclear incident since the destruction of the Russian Chernobyl plant 20 year ago, said nuclear expert and former boss at Forsmark Lars-Olov Höglund in Uppsala Nya Tidning on Tuesday.

Two of the four generators turned off last week at the plant. Höglund said the construction flaw that caused them to shut down existed in the remaining two and could have lead to a complete meltdown.

“It was pure luck that there was not a meltdown,” he 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

Ingvar Berglund, head of safety at Forsmark, said there wasn’t a risk of a Chernobyl-like accident.

“We know exactly what happened and it was an incident that could have been serious … but that it could have been the most serious incident since the nuclear power incident at Chernobyl is totally wrong,” he said.

He said backup power could have been used to circulate the water needed to cool off reactors by tapping into a smaller, separate electrical network. In a handwritten report of the incident the backup power was described as “wobbly.”

Forsmark began producing power in 1980, and now supplies one-sixth of Sweden’s electricity.

Homepage photo: Hans Blomberg/Vattenfall