January 17, 2019

Investigations into the cause of the laboratory fire finalized

The Lower Saxony Ministry  of Environment, Energy, Construction and Climate Protection (NMU) has confirmed that the root cause anylsis analysis of the cause of  fire in a laboratory of the ANF fuel element factory in Lingen has been completed. The analysis corroborated the previous assumptions about the cause of fire: The fire on December 6, 2018 was caused by a technical defect in a heating element.

"The safety of people and the environment is our top priority. This is why we took initiative immediately after the fire and developed a testing concept. The testing concept ensures that the event cannot be transferred to other areas of fuel assembly production. This was tested and approved by the NMU and TÜV. This so-called transferability test was carried out together with external experts," says Andreas Hoff, plant manager of ANF in Lingen.

In principle, all objects in operation and in the laboratory fully comply with the necessary safety regulations. External experts have carried out corresponding tests both before commissioning and during operation.

Due to an invisible electrical error at the connections of two heating cassettes of the heating plate of the laboratory evaporator, the metallic parts of the housing were highly heated. The subsequent strong heat radiation decomposed the polypropylene (PP) tabletop underneath. As a result, flammable gases were produced which ignited on the hot surfaces of the heating plate housing and led to the fire on the evening of December 6, 2018.

Nobody was injured by the fire. Subsequent official measurements proved that no radioactive substances were released into the environment.

Hoff looks into the future with confidence: "The great commitment of our employees, the good support from external specialist companies and the independent assessment by experts all contribute to possible improvements in plant design and process control. Production will resume in the course of the fourth calendar week after all tests have been completed."

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.