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Laguna Verde’s ignored alerts

On January 21, 2021, at 03:10 in the morning, there was a fuel leak in one of the generators of the Laguna Verde nuclear plant. The results of a evaluation risky determined “probability of severe accident” and “of a download radioactive great to the environment ”. Reports and photographs show corroded nuclear generator cables and rusted facilities.

A month earlier, on December 21, internal reports registered a “Diesel leak” as an “unusual event”. Only three weeks had passed since another Condition Report, which described how the mechanisms of the reactor nuclear without placing the safety gates.

On January 20, Unit 1 of the nuclear plant had a “sudden stop”. It had been in operation for 110 days with recharge of combustible, starting without having operational security systems and with five protection bars before accidents, of eight that the nuclear reactor has, failing. On January 21, the National Nuclear Safety and Safeguards Commission informed the Laguna Verde headquarters in writing that it did not authorize them to modify the work plans to operate with these faults, because the safety standards require that at least six bars control devices are working, with adequate levels of boron, the substance that allows to dampen the effects of radiation before a nuclear accident, and only three were active.

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I got a copy of all those reports for this column. They are part of the annexes of a hard letter that the mathematical physicist Bernardo Salas sent to the presidency of Mexico on February 21. Salas has not received a response to this letter, nor to the other 12 that he sent before. When he went to the Veracruz press to express his concerns, he received a harsh statement from the Commission Federal of Electricity (CFE), the institution that manages the nuclear plant. They accused him of being someone who only alarms the population, without knowledge of what is happening in the plant.

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But the academic’s concerns are also supported by other documents. On September 15, 2020, the division of Nuclear energy from General Electric sent a letter to the Manager of Nuclear Power Plants of the CFE. The Commission reserved it for five years, but Salas obtained it, he says, from his colleagues within green lagoon. The document is signed by Rafael Ledesma, who has been manager of Nuclear energy at the company for the past two decades, according to public documents. Ledesma did not reply to messages for this text.

In the letter, General Electric states that his contract as a supplier included that 60 days before each recharge of combustible nuclear, the CFE would deliver a minute with the activities that it was going to carry out. But this did not happen in time. The CFE delivered the recharge program to General Electric on July 16, 2020, for an operation that would begin less than a month later, on August 14. When refueling began, the letter says, the CFE did not provide radiation protection equipment and, although the company said they needed to change at least 15 control rods, CFE argued that it would only pay for 12. They delivered damaged parts and wanted to blame to the company for the damage. The company, in its letter, assured that it only guaranteed the bars that they changed and separated from what happened with the rest. In addition, he assured that the CFE had not paid them, although they did the maintenance, even with all the setbacks.

“The control rods are like the brakes on a car. They are the ones that make it possible to stop nuclear fission and shut down the reactor, ”Salas told me. After that failed maintenance in August, the plant has had orange alerts in September, November, December and January. Officially, the CFE says there is nothing to worry about. Meanwhile, Salas insists there is an imminent nuclear safety crisis, and that he is open to a public debate to prove it.

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