Ernst ongeluk HFR pas 8 jaar later bekend

16 november 2001

Door een enkele alinea in het in november 2009 uitgegeven boek van oud-ECN-directeur Frans Saris (‘Darwin meets Einstein’) krijgt een melding in het Storingsoverzicht van de Kernfysische Dienst over 2001 een heel andere impact. Saris schrijft:
"The nuclear reactor is a research reactor, not a power reactor; it needs electricity to operate, for instance to pump cooling water. The reactor has a back-up cooling system to prevent meltdown of the core in case of a power failure. But this evening the back-up cooling system failed to come into action and the operators did not know what to do. There is an extra safety system by convection cooling for which the operators had to open a valve, but the control room was dark. When they reached for a torch that should have been there, it had been taken away by a colleague to work under his car. Trying their luck the operators put the valve of the convection cooling in what they thought was the 'open' position. But then the lights came back on and the operators discovered they had actually closed the back-up convection cooling system. Had the power failure lasted longer it would have meant meltdown and a major disaster. When I learned about this some months later - they thought they could keep it secret - I did not think I could take responsibility any longer and I resigned from the ECN."
De onthulling krijgt relatief weinig aandacht en de oud-directeur wordt weggezet als een querulant, die de interne richtingenstrijd binnen ECN ('duurzaam of kernenergie') verloor en daarom wraak zoekt.