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Vacuum cleaner set Swedish nuke plant on fire

£170m blunder put reactor out of action for months

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A nuclear powerplant in Sweden was put out of action for seven months at a cost of 1.8 billion kronor (£170m) after a vacuum cleaner was mistakenly left inside its containment vessel during tests, according to reports.

Swedish English-language journal The Local reports on the revelations which have followed the fire which broke out at the Ringhals powerplant south of Gothenburg in May, during pressure tests on the No 2 reactor's containment.

According to the paper:

Someone forgot to remove a wet vacuum cleaner from the premises, which then caught on fire.

"Those items aren't supposed to be left in the containment, when testing," commented Peter Gango, nuclear power chief at majority plant owner Vattenfall.

"It was a human error, and those shouldn't occur in our power plants," he added.

The Local reports that losses due to the vacuum cleaner blunder have been calculated at 1.8 billion kronor, based on lost revenue from electricity sales. Powerplant chiefs hope to get two of the four Ringhals reactors fired up next week. ®

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