Professor Attila Aszódi's
Open letter to MEP Rebecca Harms
of the European Parliament Rebecca Harms stated five written questions
to the European Commission conserning the recovery works planned
at the Paks nuclear power plant in Hungary. Harms is a member of
Group of the Greens in the European Parliament.
During annual maintenance work at Paks power plant's some fuel
rods were damaged. INES (International Nuclear Event Scale) level-3
incident occured 10th April 2003 in a service shaft. The incident
raised no health concerns, nobody was injured and the health effects
of the environmental release were negligible.
Written questions from Rebecca Harms:
1. Does the Commission have information on the risk involved
with the clean-up activities?
2. Could it have any impact outside of Hungary?
3. What type of measures will be taken by the Hungarian authorities
if any in the case that a serious incident or accident
4. Does the Commission have information on the scientific
grounds on which the decision concerning the further clean-up proceedings
has been taken?
5. Does the commission plan to intervene if it turns out
that the zero option (leaving the 3.6 tonnes of fission
material in the tank) would have been a better option in terms of
Read the whole letter on MEP Harm's homepage.
Harms's letter to the Commission contained severe errors and false
allegations. Professor Attila Aszódi from Budapest University
of Technology and Economics sent an open letter to MEP Harms in
order to cut wings from the tales stated to the Commission.
Open letter to MEP Rebecca Harms,
Group of the Greens/EFA and energy spokesperson
Dear MEP Ms. Harms,
Your letter to the European Commission - issued on 28 September
2006 - on the planned recovery works at the Paks nuclear power plant
has been referred by the Hungarian media. I have read your press
release on your website with interest. Concerning the press release
and your questions I would like to inform you about the following.
As a university professor working in the nuclear field I consider
it highly important that persons speaking to the public on technical
issues, and particularly on issues of nuclear safety, should make
an effort to be perfectly accurate in order to preserve correctness
and credibility. In cases which lend themselves to frighten the
technically non-competent public this is a fundamental requirement
for politicians too. As I can see, your press release infringes
this fundamental requirement in several points.
As a politician interested in energetics and nuclear energy you
are supposed to be fully aware of the fact that the words incident
and accident are not synonyms. These are accurately defined concepts.
The following statement of your press release is not true: "In
2003 the most serious accident in a European nuclear power station
since the Chernobyl catastrophe took place in the Hungarian reactor
Paks." The rating of the event on the International Nuclear
Event Scale was Level-3, namely serious incident (not accident).
The incident raised no health concerns, nobody was injured and the
health effects of the environmental release were negligible. Furthermore,
the incident did not take place in the reactor but in a service
It is not clear how you have come to the conclusion that there
are serious concerns about the operations of the recovery works.
("There are serious question marks surrounding the safety of
this unprecedented clean-up process. The highly radioactive spent
fuel rods have to be removed without further breaking apart or there
is the risk of an even bigger nuclear catastrophe taking place.
It is quite possible that it may be safer to leave the radioactive
material where it is.") According to the Hungarian laws, not
politicians but the Hungarian Atomic Energy Authority, which has
appropriate personnel and tools, is competent in questions concerning
nuclear safety. The authority have found that the planned operations
are safe since they have issued the licenses required based on the
plans, discussions and inspections of the past three and a half
years. It is also a false allegation that the recovery work is unprecedented.
Following the accident of the unit 2 of the TMI nuclear power plant
in 1979, American specialists removed a larger amount of much more
seriously damaged fuel than in the case of Paks. These American
specialists also contributed to the preparations of the recovery
work at Paks in the framework of an international co-operation.
Incidents leading to the damage of the fuel have occurred in other
countries, as well, and the experiences of these incidents were
taken into account during the planning of the recovery work. It
is also a false idea that the further breakage of the damaged fuel
pins is not allowed during the recovery. Contrary to this, such
mechanical damage is taken into account in the plans of the recovery
work. Based on nuclear safety fundamentals it is also easy to see
that it is not worth leaving the damaged fuel in its actual place.
The removal will increase the level of nuclear safety since the
damaged fuel will be better separated from the environment and other
systems of the power plant. The meaning of your phrases "a
nuclear catastrophe" and "an even bigger nuclear catastrophe"
is also not clear because there was no nuclear catastrophe in Hungary
and the planned recovery work can not lead to significant environmental
I am surprised at your statements criticised above because you
were informed about the planned recovery operations by the CEO of
the Paks Nuclear Power Plant at the European Parliament in Strasbourg
in March 2006. I was present at the session and you did not ask
the questions published in your recent press release.
Finally, I would like to draw your attention to the following.
The incident in 2003 was caused by a cleaning vessel designed and
operated by German engineers. The cleaning vessel constructed in
your country had serious constructional deficiencies. This implies
that the exaggerated anti-nuclear attitude in Germany can weaken
the always reputed and highly acknowledged German nuclear expertise.
If we want to keep the competitiveness of the European Union and
the welfare of the European people, we need safe, cheap and climate-friendly
electricity-production methods, like nuclear energy. It should be
noticed that your anti-nuclear politics is harmful and erroneous.
In contrast with the statement of the Greens, the energetic challenges
of the 21st century cannot be answered without nuclear energy, and
its safe application requires highly qualified young experts. Therefore,
I call the attention of the German youth interested in natural sciences
that they should consider the nuclear profession as a perspective,
and should study nuclear technologies.
Budapest, October 9, 2006
director, associate professor
University of Technology and Economics
of Nuclear Techniques