Dutch nuke reactor passes emergency disaster tests

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NRG, Petten, nuclear reactor - 40.05 Kb
NRG operates the High Flux Reactor in Petten, The Netherlands. Source: NRG (Nuclear Research & Consultancy Group)

The nuclear installations in Petten, The Netherlands, can withstand extreme conditions including flooding events and earthquakes, or a combination of both. This is shown by the results of an in-depth stress test that were sent by Minister Verhagen (The Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation) to the Dutch Lower Chamber.

NRG operates the High Flux Reactor for energy research and medical isotope production in Petten. On average, 24,000 patients are treated every day throughout the world using isotopes produced by Petten. This makes NRG the second largest producer of medical isotopes in the world.

In this study, NRG analyzed the degree to which the installations are resistant to extreme conditions. Following the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan, in March 2011, all nuclear power plants in Europe are being subjected to stress tests. Although the nuclear reactor in Petten is not a power plant, but a research and isotope production reactor, in 2011, NRG decided to perform such a stress test on the reactor and on the other nuclear facilities on the nuclear site in Petten.

The results of this test showed that the nuclear installations in Petten meet all of the safety-relevant permit requirements and can withstand a wide range of extreme weather conditions as well as earthquakes, the NRG reported, adding that the likelihood that these will ever occur is "minimal."

The stress test also showed that it is feasible to increase the safety margins even more by taking a number of measures. For instance, NRG will take measures to make it possible to install an external generator at the reactor and to improve the anchoring of water storage tanks to keep them in place in the event of an earthquake or flood. Another measure concerns reducing the maximum allowed floor load in the hot cell laboratory.

NRG also said it will develop new procedures that must be followed when there is a threat of a serious situation.

The stress test took eight months and investigated the impact of flooding events and earthquakes as well as events resulting from human activities. For security reasons, the results of the investigation into willful disruption will not be made public. The extensive analyses were performed by multidisciplinary teams of NRG experts and the report was evaluated by independent experts.

The report and supplement can be accessed online