Cigarettes found in nuclear plant restricted zone

An investigation has been started at Sweden's Forsmark nuclear power station after an ashtray was found in a storage area in the restricted section of the plant.

Smoking is strictly forbidden in the restricted area of Forsmark, as smokers risk inhaling radioactive particles.

“Smoking is not allowed in any part of the plant other than in smoking rooms, and it is certainly not allowed in the restricted zone,” said Forsmark’s head of communications, Claes-Inge Andersson.

“You’re not allowed to have anything in your mouth. This is because there is a risk that you can get radioactive particles in the mouth,” Andersson said.

An investigation is now underway to identify the person who smoked the cigarettes, but the chance of identifying who it was is small, as the ashtray has been there for some time.

The latest find follows the discovery last week of four radioactive particles in a corridor outside the restricted area, which is supposed to be free of radioactivity.

“This was not good – we should have such good routines that radioactivity is not spread within the facility,” said Forsmark’s new managing director Jan Edberg.

“In this case nobody came into contact with [the radioactivity]. But there is a risk when there are particles in an area to which staff have access.”

The particles were found during routine checks.

“There was not a dangerous level of radiation, there were four particles,” said Claes-Inge Andersson.

According to him, several finds of that kind are made every year.

“We know that the odd radioactive particle can get stuck to clothes when one leaves the reactor hall or the workshops,” he said.

“This is why we regularly search the the facility, and occasionally we find the odd particle.”