Hungarian nuclear power plant incident caused by "human factor"

The fuel cleaning incident at the Hungarian Paks nuclear power plant on April 10, 2003 was caused by the underestimation of the "safety significance of the proposed designs for the fuel cleaning system", reads the IAEA experts' report published in Vienna. The IAEA mission was requested by the Hungarian Government to provide an independent assessment of the causes and actions taken by the plant and the Hungarian authorities.

According to experts in nuclear energy, "they noted that as a result of steam generator decontamination in previous years, deposits became attached to the fuel assemblies. A decision was made to clean the fuel and contract an outside company to develop and operate a fuel cleaning process. The team found out that the design and operation of the fuel cleaning tank and system was not accomplished in the manner prescribed by the IAEA Safety Standards." Moreover, the experts' report stresses, the information about the incident came with a delay which made it impossible to take urgent cleaning-up measures. However, according to the IAEA experts, after inviting specialists of the Agency and from several countries, the Hungarian authorities provided the necessary information, which helped avoid the worst scenario.

After carrying out inspections at the Paks atomic power plant, the IAEA experts worked out a number of recommendations for the Hungarian Atomic Energy Authority so as to minimise the detriment to the environment.

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Author`s name Editorial Team