July 8, 2009 / 10:24 AM / 10 years ago

Sweden raps safety at Vattenfall nuclear plant

* Swedish authority says Ringhals plant must boost safety

* Says plant has not solved lingering safety concerns

* Reactors can remain online while measures are taken

STOCKHOLM, July 8 (Reuters) - Swedish authorities demanded on Wednesday that a nuclear plant majority-owned by power utility Vattenfall carry out measures to boost safety. The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority said in a statement it was ordering the Ringhals nuclear plant, located south of the city of Gothenburg on Sweden’s west coast, to rectify shortcomings related to the “safety culture” at the facility.

“The authority has on several occasions pointed out shortcomings...,” said Leif Karlsson, acting head of the radiation safety unit at the authority.

“Still, they have not come to grips with their problems.”

However, the authority said the failings at the plant, which has an annual production capacity of 28 terawatts, were not great enough to prevent continued operation of the reactors.

The nuclear plant, in which Vattenfall owns a 70.4 percent stake, is the Nordic region’s biggest power plant and has four reactors. E.ON (EONGn.DE) owns the remaining 29.6 percent.

The decision comes days after a botched restart of one of the Swedish state-owned utility’s nuclear plants in Germany caused a power outage, adding to heated political debate over nuclear energy ahead of the German elections in September. [ID:nL77489]

Sweden’s radiation authority said the failings at the Ringhals plant related to “weaknesses” in terms of management and governance, adherence to routines and instructions.

The authority, which is responsible for radiation protection and nuclear safety in Sweden, said it was ordering Ringhals to investigate and present why routines at the facility were not being adhered to and why the shortcomings had not been solved.

“Ringhals is also to prepare a new action programme to rectify the identified repeated shortcomings,” it said.

Reporting by Niklas Pollard; Editing by Keiron Henderson

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