Safety better at Swedish nuclear plant, but more needed: IAEA

Friday, February 29, 2008

STOCKHOLM (Thomson Financial) - The UN's nuclear watchdog today noted improved security measures at a problem-prone nuclear plant in Sweden, but recommended a number of other steps to increase safety further.

The Forsmark nuclear plant on Sweden's east coast 'has introduced or extended several programmes contributing to improved operational safety,' Miroslav Lipar, head of International Atomic Energy Agency mission in Sweden, said in a statement.

The Swedish government requested that the IAEA investigate the plant following several worrying incidents that culminated in an electricity failure there on July 25, 2006.

The Forsmark 1 reactor was immediately shut down after two of four back-up generators, which supply power to its cooling system, malfunctioned for about 20 minutes, with some experts suggesting a catastrophic reactor meltdown had been narrowly avoided.

The IAEA had not identified 'any major (security) problems, just possibilities for improvement,' Anna Lihr, a spokeswoman for plant operator Vattenfall, told AFP.

The plant was praised for, among other things, its 'effective management of fire cells in order to prevent the spread of any fire and associated fumes,' according to the IAEA statement.

The UN agency inspectors, who spent three weeks reviewing the plant's security operations, meanwhile recommended several additional improvements at the facility, including strengthening 'emergency preparedness procedures.'

'We will follow the excellent suggestions we have received through the IAEA inspection of our current development programme,' plant chief Jan Edberg said in a statement.

A complete IAEA inspection report on the Forsmark nuclear plant is expected to be published within three months.

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