Safety check forces Swedish nuke plant shutdown

Sweden shut down one of its nuclear reactors on Tuesday to check the plant's control rods after cracks were found in the rods at an identical plant, the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) reports.

The agency said it had been alerted last week that a routine annual inspection at the Oskarshamn nuclear plant in eastern Sweden had turned up cracks in Reactor 3’s control rods, which are used to control the rate of fission of uranium and plutonium.

“The control rod is sort of like the nuclear reactor’s gas pedal,” agency spokesman Anders Bredfall told AFP, adding “it definitely serves an important safety function.”

Oskarshamn 3 remains closed for further inspections.

The SSM felt the finding was so disturbing it ordered all boiling water reactors in Sweden, six in all, to hand in reports by Thursday this week indicating whether they have observed similar problems.

“Today, Forsmark 3 (also on the east coast) closed down so they could see if they have the same problem, and that’s because the two reactors are in principle identical,” Bredfall said.

“Forsmark made absolutely the right decision. If there is uncertainty you definitely shut down and make sure you don’t have the problem,” he said.

None of the other reactors ordered to hand in a safety report were similar to Oskarshamn 3.