Regulator orders Swedish nuclear operators to install independent core cooling

The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority has ruled that the country’s nuclear reactors must be equipped with independent core cooling systems by 2020, taking into account lessons from the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

The ruling has caused concerns among operators of the costs involved. Installing the Fuel exchange at Ringalsnew systems will require additional investment and may mean longer maintenance times, which could drive up Nordic power prices.

“Swedish nuclear power plants will have to install an independent core cooling system if they want to operate longer. There is no final decision yet on its design or the time frame, but we are thinking about 2020 now,” Tomas Jelinek, an official at the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM), told Reuters. “If power plant operators consider this to be too costly, they might (be able to) run reactors for some time but will have to shut down eventually,” he added.

Independent core cooling is activated to direct water into the reactor core if other cooling systems fail to function, which can occur for reasons such as a loss of the external power supply.

The cores of three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima plant melted after a tsunami disabled the power supply and their cooling systems.

Magnus Kryssare, a Vattenfall spokesman, said, “We are focusing on installing the system at five reactors. We might ask for an exemption for Ringhals-1 and Ringhals-2.”

OKG, operator of the Oskarshamn nuclear power plant (which houses Sweden‘s oldest reactors) with three reactors, said it was still analysing the regulator’s proposal and planned to present its assessment by May 5.

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