Thursday, April 5, 2012

AFP: Radioactive fluid leaks at French nuclear reactor, INES Level 1 Event

Penly Nuclear Power Plant has two Pressure Water Reactors made by Framatome (today's Areva NP).

From AFP (4/5/2012):

Radioactive cooling fluid leaked at a French nuclear reactor Thursday following two small fires, but the spillage was safely collected in special tanks, officials said.

A reactor at the power plant in Penly on the English Channel near the port of Dieppe shut down automatically after two small fires broke out Thursday, the plant's operator EDF said.

Firefighters easily extinguished the blazes but a cooling pump was damaged, in turn causing a joint to leak radioactive water into collection tanks located inside the reactor building, EDF said.

The reactor continued to be cooled properly and teams were working to lower the water pressure, the company said.

EDF said the installation was secure, no one was injured, and there were "no consequences for the environment".

It was not clear what caused the fires but the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) said firefighters had found small pools of burning oil but quickly extinguished the flames.

"These were pools of a few dozen square centimetres," said agency spokeswoman Evangelia Petit, adding the authority would make an inspection of the site Friday.

The ASN said in a statement that it had provisionally put the event at level 1 on the international INES scale, which classifies nuclear accidents at between 1 ("irregularity") and 7 ("major incident").

The agency said it was lifting the crisis situation that had been put in place on Thursday evening.

France generates 75 percent of its electricity from nuclear power and the future of the industry has become an issue in campaigns for the presidential election to be held in April and May.

France, the world's most nuclear-dependent country, operates 58 reactors and has been a leading international proponent of atomic energy.

But the country's reliance on nuclear power has been called into question since the Fukushima disaster in Japan, which prompted Germany to announce plans to shut all of its reactors by the end of 2022.


Anonymous said...

In France, MSM have been downplaying the "fukushima event" ... just the same as everywhere in the world. But there have been a "Fukushima effect" : even if major nuclear accident never occured in France (at this time...), a lot of people changed his mind on dangers related to nuclear energy. Before the 11/3, 2 of 3 were confident in nuclear energy to provide a safe way in producing electricity... right after there were only 1 of 3. There's no doubt that a large majority of french people will ask for a nuclear-free future once the extend of Fukushima's damages is fully known ... at least for their children. Because it will take time and cost lots of money to get out of the nuclear way...
I was suprised the ecologist party in France did not took advantage from what happened in Fukushima... The governement program agreement they have with the Socialist Party is perhaps part of the explanation...

Anonymous said...

The greens in France had a very bad campaign and are at their lowest - I don't expect they even reach 5 % votes at the comming election.
They are the only ones really against nuclear power.

So there might be 66 - 5 = 61 % people having nice dreams for free.

Not impossible, after all.

Atomfritz said...

According to German Spiegel the radioactive water leaking originated from the primary circuit.

According to BBC the alarm was raised at 12:20 and the fire was tackled by the firefighters at 13:15.

BBC wording can be interpreted in the way that there was no firefighter department on the NPP itself, so that ten firefighter trucks (probably from 10-kilometer-distant town of Dieppe) had to rush to the site.

So it took 55 minutes to handle a small oil blaze in the reactor building!

Maybe the French were just lucky that this fire didn't spread, causing mayhem.

Anonymous said...

It seems like every couple of weeks there is a problem somewhere with these aging nuke plants. Here in the U.S., Duke Energy's Catawaba Nuclear Station (only 18 miles south the major city of Charlotte, NC) had a fire in its critical battery area this week in Unit 2, followed by a power outage (cause unknown) in Unit 1. Unit 2 was down for refueling, Unit 1 is still down due to the power outage, and is releasing steam.

Anonymous said...

I am french, and people in france seem to worry much about money than nuclear energy.. Capitalism is everywhere, and short term profits are more important than long term security. Sad country, I wish I was from a country which had stopped using such energy.

Anonymous said...

In other news: Germany's green-house gas emissions continue declining, on track for 2020 targets (same timeline as nuke power exit):,1518,825251,00.html

Anonymous said...

Just a taste of the world's future if we don't do more to develop safe energy sources.

As China and India economies grow even larger, cost/benefit calculations by their decision makers could doom the entire world to a nuclear death. We need to develop alternatives not only for the West, but also for the developing world especially.

Invest. Study. Teach. Please, we need you to do everything you can to make safe, low-cost alternatives more attractive to people who largely ignore the externalities and the true risks of nuclear power.

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