In the category "small things with unexpected consequences" we have a new entry:
A technican from Alstom dropped a pen in one of the two new generators being installed at the Ringhals 3 reactor in Sweden this summer. Evidently, he didn't miss it because it was still there at startup last week. You'd think a pen couldn't do much damage to something the size of a nuclear reactor. This pen was to prove you wrong: It shorted the generator. In fact, it shorted it so badly the generator is now almost beyond repair. Someone found what was left of the pen yesterday...
The reactor is offline for the time being. It will be put back on half normal power after the other generator has been thoroughly searched for pens, screwdrivers, spanners and anything else the technicans may have dropped.
The cost for this little mishap has been estimated at 20 million euros.
Edit: They've now found pieces from a spanner too... The pen had an assistant!
We also wrench! To 'wrench' something in Britspeak means the application of brute force. Box spanners are not the same as sockets, which have a square drive one end and a nut size hex/12 drive the other end for use with a 'tommy-bar' or ratchet. Allen or hex spanners in Britain are 'keys''- ie, Allen key, or 'hex key'. Imperial and metric all jumbled up in the same box, of course, and the one you want is always missing!!! A spanner is 'open ended' or 'ring' and most Brit toolboxes of note contain Metric, Whitworth, B.S, B.A., and A/F sizes together with heaps of rusting specials from defunct bicycle, motorcar and motorcylcle makers. We even had bicycle thread spanners to adjust the saddle, wheelnuts and handlebars! There are also adjustable spanners, Mole wrenches, 'Steggers', and pipe wrenches aka 'Stilsons'.
A 'spanner' is also a Brit slang insult for a person, [ how shall I put this politely and politically correctly? ], who is challenged in the mental faculty department, that is to say, er...stupid!
most Brit toolboxes of note contain Metric, Whitworth, B.S, B.A., and A/F sizes
I still have a set of open-end Whitworth spanners/wrenches that my father bought many years ago. They were standard sizes on many 1950s cars, although considered obsolete now, of course. The smaller B.A. (British Association) sizes such as 2BA, 4BA, and 6BA were the standard nuts and bolts for radios, control panels, and similar electrical/electronic assemblies.
There are also adjustable spanners, Mole wrenches, 'Steggers', and pipe wrenches aka 'Stilsons'.
The Mole wrench, also known as a Mole Grip, is the British equivalent of the Vise-Grip locking pliers (and while we're on that, the British device fitting on the edge of your workbench to hold work in progress is a vice rather than a vise. Isn't is good to know we share a common language?
Have a listen to this old TV commercial from the long-running PG Tips tea series for use of both "spanner" and "monkey wrench."