An incident at the Fessenheim nuclear facility in France in 2014 was more serious than previously known. German media reports claim the authorities withheld information detailing the gravity of the situation.
Both the French nuclear authority, ASN, and the company operating the two Fessenheim nuclear reactors, French energy giant EDF, allegedly did not divulge the gravity of the incident on April 9, 2014, when one of the reactors had to be shut down after water was found leaking from several places.
Researchers from German daily “Süddeutsche Zeitung” and public broadcaster WDR claim the incident at Fessenheim, which is in Alsace near the border with Germany, could turn out to be one of “most dramatic nuclear accidents ever in Western Europe.”
They are basing the claim on a document they say they have obtained, sent by ASN to the then-head of the facility on April 24, 2014.
The letter and subsequent reply reveal that the reactor could not be shut down in an ordinary fashion due to control rods being jammed. The reactor had to be shut down by adding boron to the pressure vessel, an unprecedented procedure in Western Europe, according to an expert.
The reports say the official report ASN released did not contain information on adding boron nor the jammed control rods. It was also not reported in that way to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Read more at Reports: Fessenheim nuclear accident played down
France has several ageing nuclear power plants that are unsettling its neighbours. Germany demanded last month Paris shutter its oldest station, Fessenheim, which sits near the German and Swiss borders.
Fessenheim houses two 900-megawatt reactors and has been running since 1977. Due to its age activists have long called for it to be permanently closed.