How Close Did Sweden Come to Disaster?
How Long To We Let Entergy DODGE BULLETS Before SAYING NO?
By Philip Bethge and Sebastian Knauer
The incident at Sweden's Forsmark plant underscores the vulnerability inherent in the process of producing nuclear energy. Experts say the accident won't be the last of its kind.
The culprit was as simple as it was troubling: a short-circuit. But that short-circuit caused an electricity failure that nearly led to catastrophe at Sweden's Forsmark 1 nuclear reactor.
Nearly two weeks ago, around noon on July 25, a power outage occured at Forsmark, throwing the plant's control room into a state of chaos. As the power failed, so did two of the plant's four emergency backup generators. The numbers on the controls started to go berserk, and it took a full 23 minutes before the workers, who for a time had no idea what was happening inside the reactor, were able to bring Forsmark 1 back under control.
Describing the mishap, the environmental organization Green Peace wrote that the events at Forsmark were comparable to a "ghost ship," with nobody at the rudder. And the Swedish Environment Ministry described the event as a "serious" safety incident. Swedish nuclear expert Lars-Olov Högland, who served as chief of construction for Vattenfall until 1986, put it far more dramatically. "It was pure luck that there was not a meltdown," he said. "It was the worst incident since Chernobyl and Harrisburg," a reference to the 1979 meltdown at Three-Mile Island in Pennsylvania.