Follow Countercurrents on Twitter 


Support Us

Popularise CC

Join News Letter




Editor's Picks

Press Releases

Action Alert

Feed Burner

Read CC In Your
Own Language

Bradley Manning

India Burning

Mumbai Terror

Financial Crisis


AfPak War

Peak Oil



Alternative Energy

Climate Change

US Imperialism

US Elections


Latin America









Book Review

Gujarat Pogrom

Kandhamal Violence



India Elections



Submission Policy

About Us


Fair Use Notice

Contact Us

Search Our Archive


Our Site


Subscribe To Our
News Letter

Name: E-mail:


Printer Friendly Version

A Nuke Reactor Shut Down In Sweden And Two Could Explode In The US

By Countercurrents.org

22 December, 2012

In countries, nuclear power plants are facing Fukushima-fate. It’s happening in countries that are imagined advanced and having strict supervision, in Sweden, in the US. But the following reports expose a different reality:

Swedish authorities have ordered the shutdown of a reactor at its largest nuclear power plant near Gothenburg following a seawater leak. The leak is the latest in a string of similar incidents that have plagued the Swedish nuclear industry. [1]

"There is no safety problem" at Reactor 4 of the Ringhals plant, nuclear authority inspector Jan Gällsjo told the national TT news agency. However, the presence of saltwater in the pressurized water system is an irregularity that needs to be repaired, Gällsjo added.

The Ringhals power station is located on Sweden’s southwest coast near Gothenburg, the country’s second largest city.

Earlier this month, the Radiation Safety Authority ordered the shutdown of reactor O2 at the Oskarshamn plant due to safety concerns, the Local reported. Several days later, an investigation found cracks in two of the 10 pools in which nuclear waste is stored. Nuclear waste management contractor SKB was ordered to review security and safety requirements before the reactor can be brought back online.

A report published in October by environmental organization Greenpeace heavily criticized safety conditions at Sweden’s nuclear plants.

"We are killing off the myth that Swedish nuclear power is safe. Swedish power plants are old, have great security risks, there is a lack of both personnel and skills and a large number of incidents are occurring," said Rolf Lindahl, one of the authors of the report.

The plants, which were built in the 1970s and 1980s, are being pushed to create more energy, which is putting a strain on the facilities. Rather than taking steps to guarantee the safety of the aging stations, plant operators seem to be motivated by "financial gains," Lindahl said.

The Ringhal station had been slammed earlier for not having sufficient protection against earthquakes and floods, according to the report. It now seems that the Forsmark and Oskarshamn plants face the same threats from natural disasters.

Security against terrorist attacks is also lacking, the report explained. During a protest in October aimed at drawing attention to the security issues, Greenpeace activists managed to infiltrate the Ringhal and Forsmark plants, spending the night evading security. They were only discovered when Greenpeace informed the media the next day.

Recent studies found that Swedes have become more negative towards nuclear energy, particularly since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan. According to a survey carried out by the SOM Institute at Gothenburg University, 44 percent of Swedes favor phasing out nuclear power, either immediately or at the end of the lifespan of the current plants. Only 35 percent were in favor of expanding the use of nuclear energy.

The division in Sweden over the future of nuclear power echoes the controversy in Germany, which has committed to phasing out nuclear energy completely by 2022. Unlike Germany, where nuclear power accounted for 17.7 percent of national electricity production in 2011, Sweden's 10 reactors contributed around 35 to 40 percent, according to the IAEA.

Two US nuclear power facilities under threat of meltdown

Another report [2] on US nuclear power facilities said:

Nuclear engineers have warned the Senate of the threats facing two US nuclear power facilities, which could result in enormous explosions or a Fukushima-like meltdown if natural phenomena or weather conditions cause the facilities to fail.

Senator Joe Lieberman is the current chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Government Affairs, but will retire in 2013. Two nuclear engineers have asked him to spend his last days in Congress investigating the threats posed by two nuclear power facilities.
Paul Blanch, a retired nuclear engineer who used to work at the Indian Point nuclear facility in Buchanan, N.Y., and Lawrence Criscione, a risk engineer at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) headquarters, sent a letter to the senator, warning that a Fukushima-like meltdown is in America’s future if no action is taken to improve the facilities at Indian Point and Oconee.

The engineers claim that the gas lines leading to the facilities, as well as nearby dams, are vulnerable to sabotage. Engineering failures or natural phenomena like earthquakes or floods can also cause a meltdown.

“The potential energy released in a gas line rupture at Indian Point is equivalent to that from a massive conventional bomb; the 2010 explosion and fire in San Bruno, Calif., is an example of the destructive force, which a pipeline rupture can unleash,” the letter states.

“The flooding resulting from a failure of Jocassee Dam at Oconee would be similar to that experienced at Fukushima following the tsunami,” it describes.

While the facilities themselves are well-guarded, their support systems meant to prevent meltdowns can be easily damaged. A meltdown of their reactors could result in “severe radiological and economic consequences to areas surrounding these plants,” the engineers wrote. Areas within and possibly beyond 50 miles of the facilities “could be rendered uninhabitable for generations,” which would include New York City if the Indian Point facility’s gas pipeline explodes, Blanch and Criscione warned.

Although the conditions are dire, the issues have been ignored for years. Two nuclear whistleblowers publicly accused the NRC of taking steps to cover up the dangerous shortcomings of America’s power plants. Earlier this month, Richard H. Perkins and Criscione compromised their jobs by speaking out about their concerns to the Huffington Post. The men claimed that the NRC repeatedly refused to acknowledge that there was any sort of risk involved in keeping the plants open and tried to keep the flaws secret.

The NRC has “allowed a very dangerous scenario to continue unaddressed for years,” Perkins said. Nuclear power plants are required by US law to able to withstand all types of weather conditions that could occur in the region they are located, but many of their flood walls are inadequate and don’t consider the floodwaters that could result from nearby dams.

The Oconee Nuclear Station in South Caroline is protected by a 5-foot wall, but is located near a dam that could result in floodwaters as high as 16.8 feet and cause a meltdown that resembled what happened in Fukushima.

Blanch has been petitioning the NRC about gas line issues since 2010, and Criscione has raised the issue with Congress, the media, and high-ranking officials at the NRC.
Regardless of the efforts of both engineers and employees of the NRC, the commission has repeatedly claimed that no problems exist.

“The NRC has reviewed and evaluated the gas pipeline issue. Our review of the petition found the plant continues to comply with NRC requirements,” Burnell described the NRC response to a complaint he made about Indian Point.

In yet another effort to bring attention to the dangers facing Americans living near these power plants, Blanch and Criscione are lobbying the Senate for support.

“We respectfully request that your staff review the enclosures and determine if the nuclear reactor plants involved are adequately secure from attack,” they wrote in the letter, asking the Senate to request that the NRC temporarily shut down the plants if they are not secure.

An earlier report [3] said:

Two nuclear power whistleblowers have publicly accused the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of taking steps to cover up dangerous shortcomings at American power plants, including severe flood risks facing nuclear power plants downstream from large dams.

Richard H. Perkins and Larry Criscione both have a government and military experience and recently worked at the NRC, which was created to oversee reactor safety and security. Compromising their jobs for the sake of speaking out, the men have publicized the severity of the flood risks facing a number of nuclear power plants using a number of documents obtained by the Huffington Post.

“When you’re working with sensitive information, you just don’t talk about it, so what I’m doing I find to be both perverse and uncomfortable,” Perkins told the Huffington Post. “But I had to do it."

After realizing that some details regarding the dangerous flood threat were withheld for years at the expense of public security, Perkins and Criscione felt the need to tell someone.

If a nuclear power plant floods past the level the facility is built to withstand, power to the plant from a grid connection or back-up diesel generator could be lost, causing an inability to circulate water to keep the reactor core or the spent fuel pool cool. If the plant cannot be kept cool, a catastrophic disaster similar to the failure at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant could occur.

“If we believe there is a security vulnerability, we need to take measures to address it and not merely withhold it from public discussion,” Criscione said.

When Perkins in 2010 was assigned to review the dam-flood threat at nuclear power plants across the US, the NRC censored his analysis to exclude certain information. When an edited version of the report was completed and shared among NRC employees in June, 2011, large parts of the document were blacked out.

NRC officials claim they sometimes withhold information to promote safety – to keep the information from falling into the hands of terrorists, for example.

“But the redactions by the NRC did not promote safety in any of these ways. The actions have, in fact, allowed a very dangerous scenario to continue unaddressed for years,” Perkins said.

Nuclear power plants are required by US law to be able to withstand all types of weather conditions that could occur in the region they are located. But many of the flood walls built to protect the plants are inadequate. The Oconee Nuclear Station in South Carolina is protected by a 5-foot wall, but the plant is located near a dam that could result in floodwaters as high as 16.8 feet and cause a meltdown similar to Fukushima.
These flaws, which reports indicate were found at plants across the country by latest 2005, were kept secret while NRC staff prepared an internal communications plan to deal with potential questions that could be asked about the power plants’ vulnerabilities. The Oconee Nuclear Station, owned by Duke Energy, was never shut down or properly assessed, even though it had a high risk of failure.

The NRC refused to acknowledge that there was any sort of risk involved in keeping the plant open, prompting Perkins to speak out in September and submit a letter to the NRC’s Officer of the Inspector General, charging that the NRC was involved in a cover-up, the Huffington Post reports.

“The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff may be motivated to prevent the disclosure of this safety information to the public because it will embarrass the agency,” he wrote. “The redacted information includes discussion of, and excerpts from, NRS official agency records that show the NRC has been in possession of relevant, notable and derogatory safety information for an extended period but failed to properly act on it. Concurrently, the NRC concealed the information from the public.”

Criscione publicized his concerns partially due to a personal experience he had with a flooded dam. When the Tom Sauk hydroelectric reservoir broke and released 1 billion gallons of water to destroy part of a forest and a camp site that Criscione frequently visited, he realized the risks involved with many of the nuclear power plants located near dams.

After hearing about Perkins’ report, Criscione decided to follow in his path and sent a letter to NRC Chairwoman Allison MacFarlane, attaching dozens of letters between the NRC and Duke Energy.

But even after the letters were sent, the NRC told the Huffington Post that the Oconee plant was facing no risks and that “Duke has taken appropriate actions to ensure Oconee can safety mitigate flooding events.”

Still, Perkins and Criscione stand by their beliefs that many US power plants are in danger. Criscione suspects there are many other engineers who may also feel compelled to speak out, but are afraid of losing their jobs.

“We don’t work for nuclear operators, after all. We work for the American people,” Perkins said.

“It’s the two of us against the entire federal government,” Criscione added.


[1] RT, “Seawater leak shuts down Swedish nuclear reactor”, Dec. 21, 2012, http://rt.com/news/swedish-nuclear-reactor-gothenburg-589/

[2] RT, “Engineers warn: Two US nuclear plants may cause new Fukushima”, Dec. 21, 2012,

[3] RT, “Feds covering security flaws with Fukushima-like potential, nuclear whistleblowers claim”, Dec. 4, 2012,




Comments are moderated