Dirty laundry averts nuclear disaster

SUFFOLK, ENGLAND - A nuclear leak in Britain that could have caused a disaster was averted by a chance decision to wash some dirty clothes, according to a newly obtained official report, The Guardian says.

On the morning of Sunday, Jan. 7, 2007, one of the contractors working on decommissioning the Sizewell A nuclear-power station on the Suffolk coast was in the laundry room when he noticed cooling water leaking onto the floor from the pond that holds the reactor's highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel. The pond water level had dropped as much as 30 centimetres, yet none of the sophisticated alarms in the plant sounded in the main control room.

By the time of the next scheduled inspection, the pond level would have dipped enough to expose the nuclear fuel rods – potentially causing them to overheat and catch fire, sending a plume of radioactive contamination along the coastline.


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