Forsmark safety plans criticized by inspectors

Sweden's Nuclear Power Inspectorate (SKI) on Wednesday criticized planned improvements to safety procedures at a nuclear power plant hit by a series of incidents and shutdowns.

“SKI wants to see more personnel better instructed about security procedures and at an earlier date than planned by (the) Forsmark (plant),” SKI spokesman Anders Görle told AFP, summing up the contents of a report sent to the plant.

SKI also wants the facility to improve its safety culture.

The inspectorate had asked Forsmark’s operators to detail their planned improvements after a slew of incidents at the plant, located north of Stockholm on Sweden’s east coast.

In the most serious incident, an electricity failure at the facility on July 25, 2006, led to the immediate shutdown of the Forsmark 1 reactor after two of four backup generators, which supply power to the reactor’s cooling system, malfunctioned for about 20 minutes.

Some experts have suggested that a catastrophic reactor meltdown was narrowly avoided.

The incident prompted authorities to temporarily shut down five of Sweden’s 10 reactors for security checks and maintenance. Some of the reactors remained shut down for several months.

In January, a damning internal report into safety standards at Forsmark was made public.

Sweden in February said it would ask the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect the Forsmark plant.

Forsmark 1 has been out of service since February 3, after a sample taken from one of three rubber panels in the reactor’s outer housing was found to have lost its required elasticity.

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

The country has shut two of its 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.