Fessenheim : To be shut down or not ?

6 Sep 2012

In any event, an immediate decision on the closure or continued operation of the nuclear center in Fessenheim is imperative. Fessenheim does not make tea. Operators and contractors are responsible for handling of radioactive fuel and monitoring of nuclear fission. The staff has been under pressure for a year now, which is absolutely inconsistent with the serenity and concentration required when working at a nuclear plant. Prolonging the uncertainty is irresponsible of the government.

The handling, storing, and transport of hydrogen peroxide leads to many accidents and releases of exothermic vapors that have could potentially cause burns to employees and first-aid attendants every year. Such accidents occur in paper mills, agribusiness, and water purification centers.

Hydrogen peroxide used in industry is not available in retail. It has nothing to do with the peroxide you can find in a local pharmacy. Hydrogen peroxide from pharmacies is a manipulation of language coined by communication services of the State and EDF.

To our knowledge this was the first time that this type of accident occurred in a nuclear plant. However, the Nuclear Safety Authority noted in recent years anomalies or differences in storage and implementations of hydrogen peroxide in Areva and the EDF’s nuclear center Cruas. All nuclear power plants should be subject to the European Seveso directive on chemical risks. Employees affected by the hydrogen peroxide event yesterday afternoon are, unless EDF declares otherwise, external providers that are called in for maintenance. Like in any other sector outsourcing, they have probably not received all the necessary information, directives, and supervision.

While yesterday afternoon at Fessenheim there was no initial risk for radioprotection workers and populations, the hydrogen peroxide vapors are flammable and the risk of fire or an explosive reaction with other hazardous materials was real. A domino effect of instantaneous kinetic energy could dramatically deteriorate operation of the reactor in use and trigger a state of radiological emergency.





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