A hole just a few millimeters deep at Sweden’s oldest nuclear plant is upending the debate about whether to revive the technology to ensure that the Nordic region’s biggest economy has enough power. Regulators assume such a small gap exists at the Ringhals-2 plant on the nation’s west coast because repairs to similar cavities were made earlier in the decade on about half of an area covering 700 square meters (7,535 square feet). The owner Vattenfall AB won’t carry out more costly repairs and its permit expires at the end of the year. While the state-controlled power company doubts that further faults exist, it would rather scrap the plant than uproot the meter-thick slab of concrete surrounding the massive steel plates that make up the reactor containment. Opposition lawmakers and industry groups are saying that the nation can’t afford to take Ringhals offline at a time when shortages increasingly strain the grid. Some Moderates and Christian Democrats even propose expanding the nuclear industry to boost the flow of low-polluting energy to consumers. For the moment, Vattenfall isn’t budging on the decision it made in 2015 to wind down operations at the plant, which includes two reactors that began operations in 1975 and 1976. Those reactors lack the independent core cooling systems required by the regulator for all nuclear plants to operate after 2020. Vattenfall invested 900 million kronor ($93 million) to upgrade two younger reactors at the site.
Bloomberg 20th May 2019 read more »