December 07, 2018

Clarification of the causes of the ANF laboratory fire not yet concluded

The cause of the Advanced Nuclear Fuels GmbH (ANF) laboratory fire on December 6, 2018 has not been finally established.

The Nuclear Regulatory Authority of Lower Saxony (NMU) informed the state parliament yesterday afternoon of the probable causes and details.

This was the approach that had been agreed with the authorities and is fully supported by ANF. It was important to us that the first disclosure of information about the possible causes of the fire within yesterday’s meeting in the state parliament was carried out solely by the authorities. The NMU is responsible for determining the causes and we fully support this.

At ANF the safety of employees, population and environment takes utmost priority. The thorough and complete identification of the causes as well as the implementation of required, preventive measures is therefore of great importance to us.

At the moment the following information is known:

An item of laboratory apparatus caught fire. The instrument was an evaporator. Such an evaporator serves to evaporate aqueous, non-flammable solution, which are produced during laboratory operation. The size of the evaporator is approximately 2 by 3 by 1 meter (HxWxD). A 40 by 40 cm part of the device had burnt by the time the emergency personnel arrived. Also at the time of the fire a small amount of uranium was present in the evaporator. There was no release of radioactive substances into the environment. This is confirmed by the measurements that were subsequently carried out. The laboratory concerned is located in the nuclear factory building but remote from the nuclear production line.

We expect that sodium hydroxide dripped onto an aluminum structural member. This creates hydrogen, which probably resulted in a deflagration which then set the plastic components of the device on fire. Adjacent rooms were also contaminated by smoke and soot. The use of portable carbon dioxide powder extinguishers caused serious, visible damage to the laboratory room.

Nobody was injured and there were no harmful effects on the population or the environment.

ANF in Lingen

Advanced Nuclear Fuels GmbH (ANF), based in Lingen, Germany, is a subsidiary of Framatome GmbH. ANF is part of the world's leading nuclear technology company Framatome SAS, Paris, a subsidiary of the EDF Group. ANF manufactures fuel assemblies, intermediate products and fuel assembly components for nuclear power plants on behalf of Framatome for the European and worldwide market to supply nuclear power plants with nuclear fuel.

With 309 employees, fuel assemblies for pressurized and boiling water reactors as well as special powder and tablet products are manufactured at the Lingen plant. Recently, the site has also received orders for the conversion and dismantling of fuel assemblies not yet in use, thus helping to keep shutdown German nuclear power plants free of nuclear fuel. Special competencies in the development and construction of manufacturing technologies are another cornerstone of the company and ensure high manufacturing quality and thus safety in nuclear power plants outside Germany as well. ANF offers initial and advanced training for experts in radiation protection and additional nuclear-specialist personnel.