Employee avoids disastrous nuclear fire at Sizewell
by Alan Harten
June 15, 2009
Over 40,000 gallons of radioactive water spilled out of a 15ft crack into the open in the Sizewell A reactor back in January 2007.
The radioactive water leaked out of the cracked pipe into a cooling pond.
According to reports, had the leak not been caught by an attentive worker, the cooling pool which contained 5,000 uranium fuel rods may have dried out, causing the rods to spark and potentially causing a supercharged radioactive fire.
After an inspection by the HM Nuclear Installation Inspectorate, a safety directive was issued to the site’s operator, Magnox South, and no employees were fired or prosecuted despite the fact that the report acknowledged it caused a significant risk to the public.
Sizewell A was in the midst of a decommissioning project that started in December of 2006, therefore it was not active when the leak occurred on January 7th 2007.
Normally, a leak as large as the one that occurred at Sizewell would have triggered an alarm, but the alarm was not working, causing some to believe the site should have been prosecuted which the HM inspection team suggested, however no action was taken.
In fact, the only reason an explosion did not occur is because a worker in the laundry room noticed water was leaking into the room and told engineers.
If the leak was not caught, independent nuclear consultant John Large, who has viewed the report to take action in the Shutdown Sizewell Campaign, stated that the leak may have pre-empted the worst nuclear disaster in the UK.
Other members of the campaign group claim that the Sizewell leak was pushed under the table by the government because it would have been bad publicity at a time when the Government was starting to publicly announce plans to create new nuclear plants.
Construction of these new plants is set to begin in 2013.
There are currently ten nuclear plants in the UK which produce about 20% of the UK’s electricity, but all but one will be replaced by 2023 according to new government plans.
The Environment Agency responded by saying the leak was not a public threat and Chief Inspector of the NNI stated the leak would not have actually caused a fire as many claimed, due to the fact the cooling pond would not have dried out completely.
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