back to article Vacuum cleaner set Swedish nuke plant on fire

A nuclear powerplant in Sweden was put out of action for seven months at a cost of 1.8 billion kronor (£170m) after a vacuum cleaner was mistakenly left inside its containment vessel during tests, according to reports. Swedish English-language journal The Local reports on the revelations which have followed the fire which …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I must say -

    - that sucks! I guess it's not just nature that abhors a vacuum. Does seem like an over-reaction though.

    1. Thomas 4

      A burning vacuum cleaner makes an awful mess.

      Someone will need to hoover it up. =/

  2. HP Cynic

    It honestly sounds just like something Homer Simpson would do on a typical day at the reactor.

  3. IDoNotThinkSo

    Who was in charge of the swab counting system? Did the Junior doctor fall asleep again?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Nurses / ODPs count swabs etc. We don't trust the doctors to (or they have actual surgery to be doing)


      1. Anonymous Coward

        Yup have to agree,,,,

        ,,,the doctors are far to busy prescribing lethal doses of medication to worry about swab counting.

  4. Fuzz

    Vacuuming; not always a good thing.

  5. Joefish

    On the plus side,

    Henry has now gained super-powers.

  6. James O'Shea

    perhaps they shouldn't have

    named their bloody nuke reactor after a spitting cobra. <>

  7. Ian Yates

    See icon

    "a wet vacuum cleaner"

    Your statement confuses me

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Was the cost of the vacuum cleaner included in the bill or not??

    Inquiring minds need to know.

  9. proto-robbie

    Yo Lewis,

    a nuke story, and it's not Fukushima.

    We can assure everyone that no vacuum was released into the environment during this incident.

  10. Peter Galbavy

    Any more for any more ?

    First the Cutty Sark, now a nuclear plant... what next for the oh so humble hoover ?

  11. Simon B

    CLEAN energy

    Who says nuclear energy isn't clean!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Ian Yates

    "a wet vacuum cleaner"

    Most likely they mean a wet/dry vacuum, e.g. a ShopVac, designed to suck up liquids as well as solids.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      He was making the joke that assumes a vacuum cleaner is a device for cleaning vacuums, and then wondering how you could have a wet vacuum. And now you've gone and made me kill it by explaining it, bobdammit!

    2. Michael Dunn

      Hard to imagine a wet vacuum!

  13. Paranoid Consultant

    Do they mean by "fired up" they are going to find more vacuum cleaners to leave in the other reactors?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Someone was Dyson with death.

  15. John Robson Silver badge

    Missing the point.

    "Human error shouldn't occur in nuclear power plants"

    No - human error should be expected, and systems put in place to mitigate any damage to acceptable levels. Did it really take 7 months to find a hoover? (yes I know it's more likely that the ire did damage which has taken time to clean up - but that's why I don't writ headlines.

    1. proto-robbie

      There ight be another eason.

  16. olli

    management error

    I read in my local paper that management decided to re-schedule the pressure test to an earlier, unused time slot (otherwise performed just before the reactor is going to be started and the enclosure completely emptied) in order to save some time... Orders to clean up the reactor enclosure before the test were not very strict (i.e. remove combustible stuff, not all stuff) and it was allowed to leave equipment in the enclosure that was going to be re-used soon. This left too much freedom to the individual workers to decide what could or could not be left.

    In my opinion, the error was not caused by the specific individual who left the vacuum cleaner. A management short-cut turned out not to be so wise.

  17. JanMeijer

    It's a conspiracy

    That hoover was planted by the Norwegian secret service, to ensure the 2011/2012 annual good reason for high power prices for consumers in the Middle-Norway power market region, despite the water magazines brimming with water thanks to a rather watery summer and fall.

    Last winter it was a lack of power transfer capability and -sound familiar?- a Swedish nuclear powerplant being offline for maintenance.

    Why does Mid-Norway need so much power? To feed machinery needed to export gas from the "Ormen Lange" gas field to the UK ;)

  18. David Pollard

    Check the expense claims

    This sounds very Graham Greenish to me.

    ( for those who don't know the story)

  19. Tim of the Win


    If the vacuum cleaner in question was a Dyson half those costs were probably to replace the one that caught fire.

  20. HooHah!

    Human Error

    "It was a human error, and those shouldn't occur in our power plants,"

    What kind of error *should* occur? Martian? Tursiops Truncatus?

    Of course, it is human error to assume that there will be no human error.

  21. TRT Silver badge

    I can imagine it now...

    "Ready for testing... evacuate the chamber"

    "Pressure dropping in test chamber..."

    "Sir, there's a vacuum in the test chamber!"

    "Good, ignite!"

  22. Silo Spen


    Was the cleaner vaporized?

    1. foo_bar_baz
      Thumb Up

      Just what I was going to say

      Have they done a headcount of their cleaning staff? What else was left inside?

  23. Dave 32


    So, are they using wet/dry vacuum cleaners to cleanup the Fukushima reactors?!?


  24. zen1

    Product liability...

    The following was copied directly out of the user documentation of a Shop-VAC (TM). Please see item #3. So, either the manufacturer of the device didn't proof read the english translated to swedish document, that was printed in China or somebody didn't read the instructions very well.

    Furthermore, after re-reading the below document, in its original, unmolested state, the fact that we need 25 cautionary bullet items (at best we need maybe 5 or 6, says that man with 7 fingers) is conclusive evidence that we, as a civilization, are doomed and will NEVER have anything nice.

    Finally, at the risk of sounding serious, given the fact that a containment vessel is designed to withstand tremendous amounts of heat, pressure and the flash point of the run of the mill wet/dry vac is around 500 degrees F, I'm thinking someone has some serious explaining to do.

    When using an electrical appliance, basic precautions should always be followed, including the




    1. Do not leave appliance when plugged in. Unplug from outlet when not in use and before

    servicing. Connect to a properly grounded outlet only. See Grounding Instructions.

    2. Do not expose to rain – store indoors.

    3. Do not allow to be used as a toy. Close attention is necessary when used by or near children, in nuclear reactors.

    4. Use only as described in this manual. Use only Manufacturer’s recommended attachments.

    5. Do not use with damaged cord or plug. If appliance is not working as it should, has been

    dropped, damaged, left outdoors or dropped into water, contact Shop-Vac Corporation for


    6. Do Not: pull or carry by cord, use cord as a handle, close a door on cord or pull cord around

    sharp edges or corners. Do not run appliance over cord. Keep cord away from heated surfaces.

    7. Do not unplug by pulling on cord. To unplug, grasp the plug; not the cord.

    8. Do not handle plug or appliance with wet hands.

    9. Do not put any object into openings. Do not use with any openings blocked; keep free of dust,

    lint, hair and anything that may reduce air flow.

    10. Keep hair, loose clothing, fingers and all parts of body away from openings and moving parts.

    11. Do not pick up anything that is burning or smoking, such as cigarettes, matches or hot ashes.

    12. Do not use without dust bag and/or filters in place.

    13. Turn off all controls before unplugging.

    14. Use extra care when cleaning on stairs.

    15. Do not use to pick up flammable or combustible liquids such as gasoline or use in areas

    where they may be present.

    16. Do not use your cleaner as a sprayer of flammable liquids such as oil base paints, lacquers,

    household cleaners, etc.

    17. Do not vacuum toxic, carcinogenic, combustible or other hazardous materials such as

    asbestos, arsenic, barium, beryllium, lead, pesticides or other health endangering materials.

    Specially designed units are available for these purposes.

    18. Do not pick up soot, cement, plaster or drywall dust without cartridge filter and collection filter

    bag in place. These are very fine particles that may pass through the foam and affect the

    performance of the motor or be exhausted back into the air. Additional collection filter bags

    are available.

    19. Do not leave the cord lying on the floor once you have finished the cleaning job. It can become

    a tripping hazard.

    20. Use special care when emptying heavily loaded tanks.

    21. To avoid spontaneous combustion, empty tank after each use.

    22. The operation of a utility vac can result in foreign objects being blown into eyes, which can

    result in eye damage. Always wear safety goggles when operating vacuum.

    23. STAY ALERT. Watch what you are doing and use common sense. Do not use vacuum

    cleaner when you are tired, distracted or under the influence of drugs, alcohol or medication

    causing diminished control.

    24. WARNING! Do NOT use this vacuum cleaner to vacuum lead paint debris because this

    may disperse fine lead particles into the air. This vacuum cleaner is not intended

    1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

      So they shouldn't have left the child in the containment area?

      Point #3?

      "Close attention is necessary when used by or near children, in nuclear reactors"

      1. zen1


        beer, nose, keyboard laugh! ow ow ow... ever experience a mouth full of beer attempting to egress through the nasal cavity, at high speeds, due to laughter? Hurts like hell, but that was damn funny.

  25. Ron1

    A history of incidents since 2005?

    According to Wiki, they were already under increased surveillance due to history of incidents... And still this happened?

    Google translate:

    "Radiation Safety Authority decides to impose Ringhals AB on specificvarious investigative procedures and conditions for the operation of the reactors at Ringhals 1-4. Agency and its predecessors have since 2005 complained of shortcomings that can be linked to the safety culture at nuclear power plant. But despite the Ringhals made efforts remain problems."

    £170m in 7 months is about £800k per day in lost revenue alone! And I took them SEVEN MONTHS to repair? I assume the cost of repair is several times the £170m. Why is this number not published? Too huge and too embarrassing?

    Dear Swedes, please, please decommission all your nuclear plants before you nuke us all - you obviously do not know how to use them safely...

    1. Tomato42

      Yeah, they should build coal fired power plants and constantly pollute air instead!

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