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A Tiny Hole at Sweden’s Oldest Atomic Plant Upends Nuclear Revival via Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) — 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.

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Still, it would be an uphill battle to garner enough support for any new energy plan, as the remaining parties in the agreement together with the Left Party have a majority in parliament. It all hinges on the governing Social Democrats. It wants nuclear power to be gradually phased out, but is under pressure from Swedish industry to change its stance.

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