Alarm at nuclear plant after radioactive leak — “Damaged fuel in reactor” — Workers immediately evacuated from site — Reactor in “a very special condition”… Dangerous neutron flux in core reported (VIDEO)

Published: March 7th, 2017 at 5:49 pm ET
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Nils Bøhmer, nuclear physicist formerly with the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority (NRPA), Mar 3, 2017 (emphasis added): October 25th brought reports that there was a release of radioactive iodine from the Halden Reactor [in Norway]… The iodine emission began when the IFE [Institute for Energy Technology] should have dealt with damaged fuel in the reactor hall. This led to a release of radioactive substances via the ventilation system… The next day, the NRPA conducted an unannounced inspection of the IFE. The situation was still unresolved and radioactive released were still ongoing… The ventilation system was then shut off to limit further releases into the environment. This, in turn, created more serious problems… Pressurize air kept the valves in the reactor’s cooling system open, which in turn stopped the circulation of cooling water. In the following days, the NRPA continued to monitor the reactor’s safety [and] received notice from the IFE that the reactor was in “a very special condition.” What that meant was that the IFE had discovered temperature fluctuations in the reactor vessel indicating an increased neutron flux in the core, and with that the danger of hydrogen formation. Bellona would like to note that it was hydrogen formation in the reactor core that led to a series of explosions at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant… The IFE therefore had to ask the NRPA for permission to open the valves again, even if that meant releasing radiation to the public… It seems [the IFE] further didn’t understand the seriousness of the situation… [We at Bellona are] concerned that the reactor core may become unstable by just closing the vents. Hydrogen formation in the reactor core is very serious, as Fukushima showed…

Media reports after the initial leak:

  • The Independent: Radioactive leak reported at Norwegian nuclear reactor… Staff at the facility were evacuated immediately after the incident… “We will investigate how this could happen and why we were not warned until the following day,” the NPRA said in a statement. Its head of safety, Per Strand, added: “We need to gather more information … But we are not happy with the situation, that we were not warned immediately”…
  • The Local (Norway): Those who were in the reactor hall during the incident were evacuated when an alarm sounded. Workers have since been back in the hall in an attempt to identify the cause and extent of the radioactive discharge… “Our focus now is that IFE gets the leak stopped,” NRPA director Per Strand said…
  • NBC News: Norway Nuclear Reactor Leaks Radioactive Iodine: Officials… “Of course it’s an unfortunate situation but there is a low environmental risk,” said Per Strand, deputy director-general at the [NRPA]… “This is not the sort of leak we want.”
  • Voice of America: “Plant officials said a technical failure during the handling of fuel led to the release of radioactive Iodine-131 and -132 to the reactor hall. They said staff were immediately evacuated”…

See also: Officials warn mysterious radioactive cloud is spreading -- Authorities 'baffled' over release... "Could indicate leak from nuclear plant" -- Particles "very radioactive"

Watch a broadcast on Halden’s radioactive release here

Published: March 7th, 2017 at 5:49 pm ET
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190 comments

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