Persson denies nuclear heroics

Former prime minister Göran Persson was left dumbfounded yesterday by a report in a German newspaper. Welt am Sonntag claimed that Persson’s timely intervention helped prevent a catastrophe at the Forsmark nuclear power plant during the summer.

Yesterday’s article explained to German readers that Persson gave permission to Vattenfall, which owns the facility, to open the ‘Wallmann valve’. Such a device is part of a pressure relief system found in many nuclear reactors to prevent explosion in the case of nuclear meltdown.

But, according to Forsmark’s spokesman Claes-Inge Andersson, the system is by no means standard.

“There is no valve of that name,” Andersson told Svenska Dagbladet.

The Swedish Nuclear Power Inspectorate also describes the German newspaper’s reports as “completely false” and verifies Andersson’s assertion that Forsmark does not have a ‘Wallmann valve’.

Göran Persson is meanwhile absolutely certain that there was no heroic intercession on his behalf to ward off a nuclear disaster.

One explanation for the error is a simple case of mistaken identity. There is a production manager at Forsmark 2 who also goes by the name of Göran Persson. The non-prime ministerial Persson’s name came up in at least one report in connection with safety problems during the summer.

Another explanation is that the German government was either seriously misinformed, or it decided to play a practical joke on the Sunday newspaper.

“Those responsible for the facility had already attained permission from the then Prime Minister Göran Persson to open the so-called ‘Wallmann valve’. received this information from German government circles,” wrote Welt am Sonntag’s reporter.