Norway’s two aging nuclear reactors, located in Halden and Kjeller, are being shut down in what officials are calling a “temporary” move but one that has set off speculation over whether they’ll ever be reopened.
Magazine Teknisk Ukeblad reported this week that the reason for the shutdown was largely financial, after lower oil prices led to a slowdown in the energy industry and a fall in the number of research assignments coming in to Norway’s Institute for Energy Technology (IFE), which operates them. Companies using nuclear energy are also struggling as a result of more use of alternative and renewable energy, reported the magazine.
A total of 127 IFE employees will be laid off or furloughed in the coming weeks, 72 in Halden and 55 in Kjeller. Some will be kept on to work 50 percent at the reactors, both of which date from the 1950s and have been dedicated to international research projects under the OECD’s Nuclear Energy Agency.
IFE chief Nils Morten Huseby claimed the staff cuts will not affect safety at the reactors. The Halden reactor was to be shut down immediately, while the Kjeller reactor is due to close in December.
Environmental organization Bellona called the shutdown “dramatic” and called on the state to step in to assure that the shutdowns are carried out safely and that nuclear waste is secured.