Nuclear Plant Fires

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Fires in Nuclear Plants are some of the most critical, although many do not necessarily result in catastrophes such as radiation leakage. The French nuclear power station fire earlier in the year is in this category, as there were no major casualties, although five people were treated for smoke inhalation, and the fire was quickly brought under control. The plant is run by EDF Energy, who are also the main contractor on the new UK £18 billion power station located at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

The fire at the Flamanville site in Northern France started early in the morning, in the non-nuclear area of the turbine hall, and caused a minor explosion. Although there was no immediate danger the nearby reactor was turned off for safety. The fire was extinguished by the time the fire fighting team arrived, and authorities say there is no risk of any danger associated with the blaze. The cause of the fire is still however unknown, although sabotage has been ruled out.This type of event serves to emphasise the importance of preventative measures in this kind of environment along with the need for strict procedures on discovery of fire hazards or fire ignition.

A new reactor is currently under construction at Flamanville, originally intended to open in 2012, it is now over budget and expected to go into operation in 2018. This will be the same design as the one at Hinkley Point C, and will be the first new nuclear reactor built in the UK for two decades. EDF also plan to build another new plant at Sizewell in Suffolk.

Paul Dorfman, of the Energy Institute at University College London, said that although the blast at the Flamanville reactor was not disastrous, it would still add pressure for EDF regarding safety inspections. He said “It’s the cherry on the top of the horrendous time that French nuclear is having.” Many feel that a switch to renewable energy sources like wind and solar power is favourable, reducing the reliance on nuclear power and providing a more eco friendly solution.


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