‘Nuclear emergency over’ ? officials

Swedish atomic experts on Saturday declared an end to emergency proceedings prompted by a nuclear reactor blackout as technicians were working around the clock to investigate the incident.

On Friday, Sweden said it would not close down any more nuclear power stations, after problems forced a halt to operations at four of the country’s 10 reactors, in connection with a potentially dangerous failure caused by an electricity blackout at a nuclear power plant last week.

“Now that we have taken that decision the emergency has passed,” Anders Bredfell, spokesman for the nuclear energy supervisory body SKI, told AFP.

“But the nuclear plants themselves have to do a lot of work and, given the amount of money involved, they are pretty much working around the clock to resolve the issues,” he said.

The Forsmark 1 reactor last week was shut down after a short-cut caused a blackout.

Two of four backup diesel generators failed to start automatically, revealing other faults in the electrical system “that need to be investigated before the reactor can be restarted”, SKI said.

The Forsmark blackout is being treated as a level two incident on a scale from zero to seven.

A fifth reactor has been closed down for routine maintenance, which means that Sweden’s nuclear capacity has been cut in half.

Sweden’s other reactors would be allowed to continue operating as they did not have the same technical setup as Forsmark, SKI said.

Sweden has closed down two of its original 12 nuclear reactors since 1999 as part of a plan to phase out nuclear power over the next 30 or so years, or when the reactors’ lifespan expires.

Nuclear power accounts for nearly half of Sweden’s electricity production.