Inadequate Documentation Had no Effect on Safe Operation

Berlin, 21.01.2000

As far as can be known at the moment, German nuclear power plants have not been put at a disadvantage by the falsification of documents by the British reprocessing company BNFL (British Nuclear Fuels). This has been shown from the research carried out by the German Atomic Forum.

The Unterweser nuclear power plant (KKU), which belongs to the power generating group PreussenElektra, is the only German plant ever to have taken in so-called mixed oxide (MOX) fuel elements from BNFL. KKU received four fuel elements in October 1996 which had been produced by BNFL, put to use during overhaul work in 1997, and kept in operation ever since without any malfunction. Regular inspections have not so far revealed anything out of the usual.

In the autumn of last year, PreussenElektra learned that BNFL had manipulated certain delivery documents. However, these only related to fuel element production for Japan. Nevertheless, PreussenElektra Kernkraft immediately arranged for the safety documents for the four fuel elements in use at Unterweser to be examined. The findings: the documentation on the quality assurance of so-called fuel element pellets at BNFL was deficient. As PreussenElektra stated, the Lower Saxony State Environment Ministry was informed about the matter at once.

As PreussenElektra later stated, a re-examination of the entire production process was ordered immediately. It showed that the pellets had been produced and checked in accordance with specification. There had not been any inspection deficiency at any time. However, when the documentation was being prepared in England the inspection papers had not always been complete. All the same, PreussenElektra intends to pursue the matter urgently in view of the report by the British supervisory authority.

According to information from PreussenElektra, the inadequate documentation did not have any effect on the safe operation of the Unterweser nuclear power plant.


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