energy and safety

Reactions to the nuclear tests

Can Sweden's nuclear plants survive a crisis?
4:20 min

Sweden's nuclear reactors are well prepared for a serious crisis - but not if more than one are affected at once.

All EU countries are now carrying out stress tests on their nuclear plants, to see whether they could deal with a Fukushima-style disaster.

Lars Gunsell is an analyst at the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority. That's the government body that's collecting all the info from the stress tests. An early version of the results has just been published on their website.

He says that the worry is that resources would be stretched too thin. Would there be enough fire fighters to deal with problems in several reactors? Can the control room deal with several reactors ablaze, and would there be enough staff in general? The first results of the stress test raise doubts about all of these points.

The ten Swedish nuclear reactors are split up around the country. One is on the coast, north of Stockholm, one further south, near the island of Öland, and the other one in the south-west.

Claes-Inge Andersson is a press spokesman at Forsmark, north of Stockholm. He says that he has never had ever had any worried for his person al safety, and agrees that an earthquake is unlikely to hit his reactors. However, extreme weather, ice storms or even forest fires could all spell disaster and affect several reactors at once.

In one way Swedish nuclear plants are a lot stronger than the reactors at Fukushima. After the US disaster at Three Mile Island in 1979 all reactors here had filters put in, which will mean much less radioactive material leaking out, even if there is a crisis like at Fukushima.

The final results of the nuclear stress-test will be coming in by the middle of December, and then next Spring there will be an international panel of experts studying the results from all over Europe.

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