Fire breaks out at Catalan nuclear plant

25th August 2008, Comments 0 comments

The latest fire in the ANAV-run plant has prompted environmentalists to ask for other ANAV accident-prone plants to be shut down.

25 August 2008

VANDELLOS / BARCELONA -- A fire broke out at a nuclear power plant in Catalonia Sunday morning, forcing it to shut down and activate an area emergency plan, the Nuclear Security Council (NSC) reported.

Although the fire was described as small and located outside the plant's radioactive perimeter, Vandellòs II will remain closed "for weeks," said Eugenio Gil of the NSC.

According to Gil, a malfunction in the electricity generator may have caused the fire that broke out at 8.45am inside the plant, which is located in Tarragona province. The alert system was deactivated at 10.30am, when technicians checked to make sure the danger had passed, he said.

"All security systems worked as expected and were not affected by the fire. At this time the plant is stopped and stable," said the NSC in a press release.

The mayor of Vandellòs sought to downplay the incident, saying most residents did not even notice what happened.

But environmental groups such as Greenpeace and Ecologistas en Acción said that a huge plume of smoke was visible from Tarragona at around 10 in the morning.

Both groups are asking authorities to revoke the operating licenses for three nuclear plants - Ascó I, Ascó II and Vandellòs II - all of which are run by the same group, ANAV.

This is the latest incident in a recent series of mishaps at ANAV-run plants. Last April, a level-2 leak at the same plant forced an evacuation of the entire town.

Meanwhile, the NSC has recommended that the government fine the Ascó I plant EUR 22 million for concealing the fact that it had suffered a leak in November 2007 for more than four months.

In May 2007, the NSC asked for a report on why the Catalan plants have three times as many incidents as the average rate for all nine nuclear plants in Spain.

[El Pais / J. Garcia / F. Balsells / Expatica]

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