Forsmark nuclear power station, Sweden

  
  - darkometer rating:  4 -

Sweden is one of the most ardent advocates of the use of nuclear power (while at the same time vehemently critical of nuclear arms). Like neighbouring Finland it is also one of the very few countries on earth looking seriously into nuclear waste disposal with a long-term perspective, including at Forsmark (permanent storage facilities utilizing special capsules buried deep in crystalline bedrock are in the pipeline).

Sweden covers about half of its electricity needs through nuclear power, and the plant at Forsmark alone provides about a sixth. Three reactor blocks (all of the boiling water type) are in operation. There is a visitor centre and guided tours are offered.

The reason for Forsmark's nuclear power plant to be singled out here as a dark tourism destination lies in its historical significance: it was here at Forsmark that on 28 April 1986 measurements of elevated radiation levels, not coming from a leak on-site, as was initially feared, but blown by the wind over the sea from the Soviet Union indicated that there must have been a major accident there. Indeed, after the news was out in the West, the USSR had to concede that this was in fact the case, namely at Chernobyl! In that sense one can say that the nuclear catastrophe of Chernobyl "began", for the Western world, at Forsmark.   

But Forsmark has also had its own history of accidents. A particularly critical one in 2006 could have resulted in a disaster including meltdown, although this is contested. What happened was that the plant found itself cut-off from its power supply and reliant on emergency back-up generators. Two of these four units failed due to a fault that could also have put the remaining two units out of use, but luckily didn't; they could be started manually. Otherwise a situation not unlike that at Fukushima in 2011 could have emerged. Since the control systems were also without power there was an uneasy period during which the engineers at the plant couldn't monitor what was going on in the reactor core. Once power was restored, they fortunately found that the control rods had lowered correctly and that the reactor could be brought back under control quickly. The incident has since been played down by the operating company and the government, even though there were extensive reviews of security at the plant in the aftermath.

You can visit Forsmark as a tourist: there is an information centre – opening times: weekdays (except on public holidays) between 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.; admission free. To see more of the plant itself, or even visit the site projected for permanent waste storage, you need to arrange a (group) "study tour" well in advance (phone +46 (0)173-812 68 or fill in the form online at vattenfall.se/sv/visitor-form-forsmark.htm).

Location: about 90 miles (150 km) north of Stockholm, Sweden, about half that from Uppsala, the nearest larger town, and ca. 12 miles (20 km) from Östhammar in Roslagen region, on the Baltic Sea coast. It can be reached by road, just a couple of miles off Route 76.

Google maps locator:[60.405,18.178]
  

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