Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Fraud in a nuclear research reactor may cause safety problems in other reactors worldwide

Faked-data scandal might jeopardize safety at unknown number of nuclear power plants   An investigation at Norway’s now-closed Halden research reactor reveals that results from a number of nuclear fuel experiments were tampered with in an effort that was “planned and well hidden,” according to the facility’s operator — a discovery that could have consequences for numerous nuclear power utilities around the world. Bellona,   May 15, 2020 by Charles Digges

An investigation at Norway’s now-closed Halden research reactor reveals that results from a number of nuclear fuel experiments were tampered with in an effort that was “planned and well hidden,” according to the facility’s operator — a discovery that could have consequences for numerous nuclear power utilities around the world.

Many of Halden’s former customers are foreign governments and nuclear utilities that relied on Halden’s data to make decisions about how to fuel their own nuclear reactors. The purpose of research facilities like Halden is to simulate how various nuclear fuels behave under different circumstances, thus allowing nuclear power companies a greater margin of safety in their operations.

While officials have not revealed which nuclear operators might have been impacted by the falsifications, the say the report casts doubt on seven fuel experiments that took place between 1990 and 2005.

“What scares us is that companies around the world operating nuclear reactors may have relied on data from the Halden reactor,” says Frederic Hauge, Bellona’s president. “If data has been manipulated, security can be jeopardized, because the research is used to make decisions about how the reactors are operated.”

The Halden reactor, which is one of four research reactors run in Norway, began operations in 1955 and was shuttered in 2018 after a long period of financial difficulties and technical problems. Kvamme Associates, an Oslo-based anti-corruption research group, led the investigation into the suspect data. The group provided its results to the Institute of Energy Technology, or IFE, Halden’s operator, earlier this week.

According to investigators, the IFE’s suspicions about data manipulation arose last summer. The ensuing inquiry revealed fraud so serious that the IFE reported it to Norway’s economic crimes unit.

The investigation report, which IFE released to Bellona this week, shows that a number of fuel tests were fabricated either because researchers failed to meet test requirements, or because they ran up against deadlines they were unable to meet.

“We have found that data was changed,” IFE director Nils Morten Huseby, told Norway’s national broadcaster, NRK. “What was reported to customers is not what the tests actually showed. It can potentially be serious, but we need to know more about how the customers used the data.”…….

Three other projects carried out at Halden are also under suspicion and are currently under review, NRK said.

Bellona’s Hauge questioned the IFE’s oversight of the experiments in question, and called for a broader investigation into the institute’s management practices………

According to NRK, the Kvamme Associates report states that four international projects conducted at the Halden reactor were found to contain fabricated data. Independent experts found that two of the cases involved no security or safety risks, the broadcaster reported, while two other cases have not been fully evaluated.

Three other projects carried out at Halden are also under suspicion and are currently under review, NRK said.

……The revelations come as a blow to the IFE, which until Halden’s closure had struggled with criticism that the reactor was too costly to the Norwegian public and had battled allegations that it was unsafe following a 2016 iodine leak.

“The fact that IFE’s reputation as a research institution is at stake here is one thing,” said Hauge. “But that it may have affected the safety of an unknown number of nuclear power plants in an unknown number of countries – that’s very, very serious.”…..

Bellona’s Hauge questioned the IFE’s oversight of the experiments in question, and called for a broader investigation into the institute’s management practices. https://bellona.org/news/nuclear-issues/2020-05-faked-data-scandal-might-jeopardize-safety-at-unknown-number-of-nuclear-power-plants

May 18, 2020 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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