Fire leads to nuclear reactor shutdown

A reactor at the Ringhals nuclear power plant in south-western Sweden has been shut down after an explosion in a transformer led to a fire. It is still unclear what caused the explosion and the reactor will be shut down at least for several days.

“It was a big explosion, that could be heard from far away,” said Ringhals spokesman Torsen Bohl.

Reactor 3 was shut down automatically last night as soon as the fire was detected. The transformers are surrounded by a cement wall located 150-200 meters from the actual reactor, with no ceiling, so the flames just went straight up.

“Oil from the transformer has spread but the fire has now been put out,” said Ringhals spokesman Gösta Larsen to TT at around six thirty this morning.

The fire was put out by Ringhals’ own fire department. Varberg’s and Väröbacka fire and rescue departments were also there to assist. During the early hours of the morning, rescue workers were still trying to cool down the area. It is hoped that inspectors will soon be able to enter the area and start investigating what caused the explosion and to repair the damage.

Gösta Larsen said he could not say how long it would take before the reactors were working normally again, but he confirmed that it will take days.

Sweden’s Nuclear Power Inspection, SKI, followed the fire during the night and has concluded that all security procedures for fires and explosions have worked properly.

Ringhals 3 was started in 1981, a year after Swedes voted to abolish nuclear power in a referendum. There is no sign that the fire has damaged anything else in the vicinity and no one was hurt.