Sweden's Vattenfall says to boost nuclear safety

Friday, November 16, 2007

Mon Nov 12, 2007 1:17pm GMT

STOCKHOLM, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Swedish utility group Vattenfall said on Monday it will create a new executive post to keep tabs on its nuclear power activities after criticism over operations at plants in Sweden and Germany.

The new post is the result of an internal report into a series of incidents at the company's Swedish nuclear plants, starting with an emergency shut-down at the Forsmark plant in 2006.

In addition to the post of Chief Nuclear Officer, which the firm said had yet to be filled, Vattenfall said it will also set up a Group Nuclear Security Council.

"As a consequence of what happened at Forsmark last year, Vattenfall's Board of Directors has made nuclear safety issues its top priority in 2007," Vattenfall Chairman Dag Klackenberg said in a statement.

In July 2006, a short-circuit triggered the shutdown of one of the three reactors at Forsmark -- owned by Vattenfall, Mellansvensk Kraftgrupp and Germany's E.ON. Other reactors were also shut down to check the same problem could not occur.

A leaking seal and a fire at another Swedish plant added to concerns over safety.

Problems were not confined to Sweden.

In Germany, Vattenfall's Kruemmel and Brunsbuettel plants remain off line after a fire in a transformer substation at Kruemmel this year and a short circuit at Brunsbuettel.

German authorities threatened to withdraw Vattenfall's operating licence for the two plants after the incidents.

Vattenfall owns half of Kruemmel and two-thirds of Brunsbuettel. E.ON holds the remaining stakes.

Vattenfall's Chief Executive, Lars Josefsson, said he agreed with the report's recommendation that Vattenfall's safety culture needed reinforcing, and said the company would now "start work to restore a position as global benchmark for nuclear saftey".

(Reporting by Simon Johnson)

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