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Heavily increased radioactivity during annual inspection in the Gundremmingen nuclear power plant
At the Gundremmingen nuclear power plant between Ulm and Augsburg, significantly more radioactive noble gases were released into the environment as part of the annual inspection than in normal power operation. This was reported by the nuclear-critical medical organization IPPNW on Friday, referring to the first unavailable measured values.
The experts from the medical organization IPPNW (International Doctors for the Prevention of Nuclear War / Doctors with Social Responsibility) stated that in September, at the beginning of the annual revision at the Gundremmingen nuclear power plant, the emission values of the radioactive noble gases increased "suddenly in an extreme way". According to the IPPNW, peak loads were reached for a short time, which were almost 500 times higher than in normal operation. While the nuclear-critical medical organization warns of "probable health consequences of such emission peaks", the operator of the Gundremmingen nuclear power plant pointed out that the applicable limit values were met despite the increased release of radioactive noble gases.
Radioactivity 500 times higher than in normal operation As reported by IPPNW, the emission concentration of the nuclear power plant before the annual revision was approximately three kilo becquerels per cubic meter and is at the start of the revision to more than 700 kilo becquerels per cubic meter in the late afternoon and evening of September 22 increased. According to the IPPNW, a maximum value of 1470 kg becquerel per cubic meter was reached in the meantime, and even during the following days between September 23 and 29, the average load of 106 kg becquerel per cubic meter was still around 30 times higher than in normal power operation . As to the cause of the increased release of radioactive substances, the nuclear-critical medical organization explained that when the fuel assembly was replaced, the cover of the reactor pressure vessel was opened and so, in addition to "radioactive carbon, other radionuclides such as tritium, iodine-131, cesium-137 and radioactive noble gases" could escape. However, the information on the released radioactive particles and the radioactive noble gases was previously only available as averaged values. Due to inquiries from the IPPNW and the Greens in the Bavarian state parliament, however, the averaged values have now been published for the first time. The scientific evaluation of these values by the IPPNW and the Nuremberg scientist Dr. Alfred Körblein illustrated the massive increase in emissions at the beginning of the annual revision in Gundremmingen. Like Dr. Körblein emphasized that the concentration of radioactive noble gases "reached a maximum of 500 times the normal value."
Health risk from the released radioactivity - especially for children The enormous emission peaks at the Gundremmingen nuclear power plant were once again a reason for the IPPNW experts to warn of possible health effects from the radioactive pollution. According to the IPPNW board member, Reinhold Thiel, "unborn children in the womb" are particularly at risk because "pregnant women in the operating phases with the reactor pressure vessel open breathe more radioactive nuclides with their breath than usual." unborn child, which in the worst case can promote the occurrence of certain diseases in the children, explained Thiel. As an example, the expert cited the increased leukemia risk of children living near the nuclear power plants, which is plausibly explained by "the results of the child cancer study published in 2007 by the Mainz Child Cancer Registry".
Operator points to compliance with the daily limit values However, the operators of the Gundremmingen nuclear power plant - the nuclear power plant Gundremmingen GmbH, which is 75 percent owned by RWE Power AG and 25 percent by E.ON Kernkraft GmbH - excluded health risks from the increased emissions as part of the annual revision . A spokesman for Kernkraftwerk Gundremmingen GmbH explained that the annual revision had complied with all limit values for the emission of radioactive substances and that the controlled activity derivation was significantly below the approved limit values. According to the power plant operators, the so-called daily limit value, which reflects the total of all discharges within 24 hours including the peak value, has only been relevant for the assessment of possible health risks. Short-term outliers, such as the 500-fold increase in the emission value, can be neglected, as the daily limit was also fallen below by around 85 percent on the days with the highest emissions, the spokesman for the operating company said.
Average half-hourly values required for the release of radioactive substances The IPPNW experts see this differently and criticize the previous procedure, in which the corresponding measured values are only published by the supervisory authorities and power plant operators as a leveled average. "For a sensible scientific evaluation to protect unborn children, we now need half-hourly values of all radioactive emissions from all nuclear power plants," emphasized Reinhold Thiel. In the past, these values were "treated by the supervisory authorities and the nuclear power plant operators as company property and, despite multiple inquiries, were only made available in an averaged form," according to the criticism of the nuclear-critical medical organization. In the opinion of the IPPNW, the values must be made available in the future promptly and without leveling over a longer period of time in order to estimate the health risk from the radiation released. (fp)
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