Employee faked radiation test data at Swiss nuclear plant

Authorities claim that this is not the only case of human error at the Leibstadt plant. Keystone

A worker at the Leibstadt nuclear power plant near Zurich was found to have fabricated data on safety tests that were not even performed.  The authorities claim this did not affect the safe operation of the plant.

This content was published on January 31, 2019 - 14:43

The employee concerned failed to perform biannual tests on three mobile radiation measuring devices since 2016. The devices need to be tested to ensure they function properly. Instead, the worker entered fabricated data into the inspection logs.

The devices in question are used to measure radiation from containers for radioactive fuel before they are transported to an interim storage facility at another location. Once at the interim storage facility, the radiation levels of the containers are measured again.

According to the Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate (SFNSI)External link, no significant differences in radiation levels were observed between the plant and the interim storage facility, indicating that the error did not pose a threat to safety. Personnel transporting the radioactive fuel did not show any unexpected level of exposure.

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Axpo, the company that operates and owns the plant, will have to submit a detail report SFNSI by February and the latter will make the final conclusions public. A review of other inspection protocols will later be conducted by an independent body.

"Unfortunately, this case is not an isolated one. It is part of a series of incidents at the Leibstadt power plant linked to human error," said Georg Schwarz, deputy director of SFNSI in a statement on Wednesday. "Steps must now be taken to sustainably improve the safety culture at this facility.”

SFNSI already conducts around a 100 announced and unannounced inspection of the plant every year. This number is expected to increase significantly in the current year.

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