The safety gaps recently revealed in Swedish nuclear reactors are an absolute disgrace and cause for alarm. The nuclear operators have not prepared for obstruction of seawater cooling, nor for snowfall or earthquakes of a magnitude that can occur in Sweden. The output of old reactors has been uprated at the expense of safety. The failure of back-up generators and several other safety systems in Forsmark in 2006 was one of the most serious near-misses during this century, before the Fukushima disaster.
Our demonstration shows how alarmingly easy it is to access the systems responsible for supplying the reactor cooling systems with power. The EU stress tests revealed that in some Swedish reactors, loss of power to the reactor would lead to a nuclear accident in just one hour. By taking part in this demonstration I want to draw attention to how little the nuclear companies care about people’s health and safety, and how little they do to protect the reactors from accidents.
The authorities have tried to access the safety violations for years through soft measures: reactors have been placed under special surveillance, reports and investigations demanded and protocols revised. Inspite of all this, the blatant breaches continue, the latest evidence of this being the fire that took place in Ringhals just a few months ago due to a rushed start-up procedure, and particularly the subsequent intentional cover-up. The only way to put an end to this continuous cutting of corners before a serious accident happens, is for violations to have clear consequences: the offending operators need to have their reactors taken offline, at least until the worst issues have been addressed.
The biggest contribution that the EU has made to combating climate change globally has been the successful development of wind and solar power, as well as of many energy saving technologies. The rapid roll-out of these solutions in Europe has brought costs down to a level where other countries have started to deploy them, with China and the U.S. leading the charge and becoming the biggest markets.
Now energy companies plan to spend up to 25 billion euros to patch the safety gaps in the old reactors –a pile of money that would install enough wind power plants to match the output of all of Sweden’s ten nuclear reactors. Keeping old, dangerous nuclear reactors online means continuing to spend countless billions on their life support: this is spending that does not advance clean and safe energy production globally, nor in Europe.