Fire forces shutdown of Spanish nuclear plant

August 25th, 2008 - 12:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Tarragona (Spain), Aug 25 (IANS) A nuclear power plant in northwestern Spain has been shut down after an electric generator caught fire, the latest incident at a reactor that has already been penalised for its poor safety record, EFE news agency reported Monday.Fire service officials took about 90 minutes to put out the fire at the Vandellos-2 nuclear plant in Tarragona province Sunday. The fire did not cause any injuries or environmental damage, officials at the Spanish Nuclear Safety Authority (CSN) said.

“The security systems (at the plant) worked as planned,” the CSN added, explaining that the facility was “shut down and stable” and the incident “has had no impact whatsoever on the workers or the environment.”

The incident came just weeks after the government pledged to take serious action against another nuclear power plant over a radioactive leak last year.

Vandellos Mayor Josep Castellnou downplayed the significance of the incident and appealed for calm in the wake of a situation that, he emphasised, had been barely noticed by the local public.

“It occurred in the conventional part of the plant, far from the nuclear reactor and it was controlled with appropriate measures in some 10 minutes,” he said.

Castellnou confirmed that the ANAV nuclear power association will begin an internal investigation at the facility to determine the circumstances leading to the fire.

Spanish energy groups Endesa and Iberdrola jointly run the Vandellos-2 plant, which was built in 1980.

In 2006, the plant was slapped with a fine of 1.6 million euros ($2.4 million) due to deficiencies in communication, monitoring and repair of corrosion in pipes that carry seawater to the plant to cool the reactor.

Last week, the CSN announced penalties against another nuclear plant, Asco-1, over a radioactive leakage that occurred in November 2007. The fine could range between 9 and 22.5 million euros ($13.3 million to $33.3 million), the largest fine imposed on an installation of this type.

Meanwhile, environmental groups Greenpeace and Ecologists in Action have demanded the withdrawal of the operating permits and the precautionary shutdown of the three nuclear plants in the province, Asco-1, Asco-2 and Vandellos-2 facilities, saying that the number of accidents and management irresponsibility justified such a move.

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