06 June 2008

Three nuclear incidents in two days in Europe

Accidents happen, but when three similar accidents happen in two days in a part of the world, it starts to get strange.

The first incident took place on Tuesday and was just a rumor in Lublin, Poland, about higher radioactivity levels. Some people thought the cause was an accident in Ukraine. Nothing major happened, a few schools cancelled classes, it was just a rumor.

The second incident took also place on Tuesday, in the morning, and might have triggered the above rumor. In the Czech republic, the 35-year old Dukovany plant's automated safety system cut output from one of its four reactors after a worker mistakenly turned off coolant pipes.

The next day, however, a real thing happened: a water leak from the primary coolant unit in Slovenia's Krsko nuclear plant on Wednesday afternoon forced the 25-year old facility to shut down its single reactor for emergency repairs.

Here's the original article.

So many questions now. How come three incidents of the kind happen in two days when there weren't any of the kind in months? Where did the rumor come from? How come a rumor appears a day before an accident?

Another problem is the Polish society's attitude towards the nuclear energy. All most people know on the subject are legends about giant mutated rabbits in Tchernobyl. In their minds, nuclear power equals huge danger, when no matter how suspicious the above incidents were, no one has suffered, not even animals. However, only yesterday, four miners have died in a methane blast, and over 180 others died in mining accidents during the last 35 years. That's how safe the "good old ways" of obtaining energy are.

[Update] It turns out there was an incindent in Ukraine as well:

Ukraine's state nuclear power utility Energoatom has admitted that a small leak occurred at water-moderated reactor in the country's northwest on May 29, but said no radioactive materials were released.

This brings us down to three nuclear incidents in five days, still quite much and still very strange.

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