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Greenpeace: close all Swedish nuclear plants now

James Savage · 2 Aug 2006, 18:19

Published: 02 Aug 2006 18:19 GMT+02:00

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The Forsmark incident, which one Swedish nuclear expert called the most serious nuclear incident since Chernobyl, was due to a construction fault built into the reactor in 1993. The Swedish Nuclear Power Inspectorate (SKI) is now asking other nuclear power stations to report whether their reactors have similar design faults.

Greenpeace says this should lead to all Swedish plants being shut until they can guarantee they do not have similar faults.

"If SKI is saying that the safety problem is so great that Forsmark cannot open again for the time being, then they'd better close all reactors."

Anders Bredfell, spokesman for SKI, said the organization was waiting for analyses from Sweden's other nuclear plants, which he said were due to be handed in on Wednesday evening.

"If we find that one or other of the plants has the same problem, it would be classed as a class 1 fault on our scale, and that would mean they have to shut."

While it was possible that the other plants had the same problem, it was not likely, Bredsell said.

"We have already received indications that this is not the case," he said.

If it were found that one or more of the plants did have the same construction fault, it could take some time to fix.

Forsmark's reactor was shut down on Friday, and still has not reopened.

"It's really hard to say how much longer it will take - we're not talking about hours, we're at least talking about days and it might be longer."

"The important thing from our perspective is that everything is OK from a safety perspective."

Meanwhile, the Swedish Green Party has demanding an independent inquiry after into the safety of Sweden's nuclear power stations after an expert said that it was only luck that meant last week's incident at the Forsmark nuclear power station did not result in a meltdown.

Green Party spokesman Peter Eriksson said an investigation should be carried out by international experts.

"A fundamental nuclear safety investigation has not been carried out in Sweden since 1979. We need to ask ourselves the fundamental questions about the likelihood of an accident, about where the weaknesses are, and which safety issues need to be considered when using nuclear power," Eriksson writes in a press release.

His comments follow an interview with nuclear expert Lars-Olov Höglund, who said events leading to the shutdown of the plant last week constituted the most dangerous international nuclear incident since the destruction of the Russian Chernobyl plant 20 years ago.

Höglund, who was chief construction engineer at the plant said it was pure luck that all the power station's reserve generators had not been knocked out after a short circuit in a distribution plant.

Story continues below…

But Anders Bredfell said SKI did not share Höglund's dramatic conclusions.

"It's definitely a seriously incident, but it's far from being on the level of Chernobyl," he said.

Nonetheless, environment minister Lena Sommestad said she is prepared to discuss a wide-ranging independent inquiry into Swedish nuclear power after the Forsmark reactor shutdown.

"But let us first investigate the incident thoroughly and get a report from the Swedish Nuclear Power Inspectorate about what actually happened, which failures occurred and how seriously we should view the accident," she said.

Nuclear energy currently accounts for 45 percent of Swedish electric

James Savage (james.savage@thelocal.se)

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