Temelin - radioactive water leak


The press office of the power utility CEZ, which built and operates the controversial Temelin nuclear power plant, announced on Thursday that several cubic metres of radioactive water leaked during reactor tests on Wednesday. By Daniela Lazarova.

Milan Nebesar, the spokesman for Temelin told the Czech News Agency that none of the radio-active water which leaked had escaped from the reactor's safety shell and that there was no danger either to staff of the plant or to the local environment. We spoke to Cenek Svoboda of the State Office for Nuclear Safety, who currently heads a scientific supervisory team at Temelin, to find out exactly what happened.

"A human error led to the starting up of emergency core cooling systems. They in turn started the pumps which pumped water into the primary circle. Since the reactor was open some of the water leaked - but it never left the closed system."

So where did it go? It remained within the reactor's safety shell, is that right?

"Yes, yes. To begin with, the radioactivity of this water is negligible, and moreover, it remained within the closed system."

What happened to it?

"Nothing special. This water will be cleaned and will be used again in the primary circuit. This was due to human error."

And you are saying that the safety system actually corrected it, is that right?

"There is always the possibility of human error - but this security system is designed to eliminate human errors by the emergency systems which take over."

Every time? Any kind of human error that could happen at Temelin would be corrected by the emergency system?

"Every time. It is practically impossible to make a mistake that the emergency systems would not eliminate or correct. From the point of view of nuclear safety everything is OK. From the point of view of radiation protection it is also OK. There is no reason to feel that Temelin is dangerous."

Even for the employees inside Temelin?

"Even for them, because the level of radiation of this water was negligible."

Is this employee going to be held accountable?

"The standard procedure is that an investigative committee will look into the matter and eventually recommend not only what is to be done about the employee in question but, more important, how such an error could best be avoided in the future."

Despite these assurances from the State office for Nuclear Safety, this latest incident at Temelin has spurred anti-nuclear activists to fresh protests.