Two nuclear power plants in Germany, Isar-1 and Philippsburg-2, have have been shut down following suspicions about operational irregularities. In the case of Isar two anonymous letters to the authorities claimed that TÜV experts’ opinions had been manipulated by false data from plant staff members. At the Philippsburg plant, non-standard operational safety related procedures had been performed. In this latter case a detailed investigation has led already to the suspension of the plant manager and the resignation of two EnBW directors. The Isar plant is presently in maintenance outage and Philippsburg has been taken out of operation. Neither plant will be restarted without the consent of the Federal government.

Subsequent investigations by EnBW have revealed similar irregularities to the Philippsburg case at the Neckarwestheim and Obrigheim nuclear power plants in 1997 and 2001. EnBW are planning to appoint an independent nuclear commissioner within the company who will investigate safety-relevant events and make proposals for future procedures.

At Philippsburg-2 the acid level of the safety system coolant was found to be too low, but was restored without investigation and without shutting the plant down. The incident was regarded by the staff as of safety level zero (which doesn’t require shutdown) but it seems that more than one tank was affected, a fact which would precipitate shutdown, but which was, it is claimed, withheld from the Baden-Württemberg state authority and the local TÜV expert. This resulted in the chairman of EnBW immediatedly ordering shutdown and the Baden environmental minister demanding organisational changes in the safety management of the plant. During the subsequent investigation unreported incidences of inadequate safety coolant reserve and safety valve falure came to light.

At Isar, two E.on engineers, now suspended, are said to have withheld information and documentation when TÜV was checking the feed water supply of the Isar-1 plant. The Bavarian government has started up an independent investigation. The two engineers may face prosecution.