Why "Nuclear Power" will be a dirty word after Y2K

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from http://www.foxnews.com/news/wires2/0324/n_ap_0324_202.sml

Experts: Ukraine's nuclear sector close to degradation 1.27 p.m. ET (1828 GMT) March 24, 1999

By Viktor Luhovyk, Associated Press

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - The nuclear power industry in the country where the Chernobyl disaster took place is so strapped for cash it has virtually stopped funding reactor safety maintenance, analysts said Wednesday.

As a result, the number of malfunctions at the five nuclear reactors in the Ukraine increased 20 percent in 1998 over the previous year, said the Ukrainian Nuclear Society, an independent group of former senior nuclear plant managers and industry experts.

"The situation in the nuclear sector has drastically worsened,'' said noted UNS board member Mykola Shteinberg.

Ukraine's Soviet-era nuclear plants have prompted safety concerns since the 1986 explosion and fire at the Chernobyl plant, the world's worst nuclear accident.

Ukraine insists it needs nuclear power as an efficient and relatively cheap alternative to its aging coal-powered plants. Ukraine's nuclear power facilities account for more than 40 percent of the former Soviet republic's electricity production.

Ukraine's continuing economic decline has much to do with the deterioration of plant safety. Nuclear plants receive just a small percentage of what they are owed from electricity consumers, Shteinberg told a news conference.

Officials from the society issued their warning amid monthlong protests by nuclear workers demanding overdue salaries. The government owes nuclear workers $40 million in back wages.

In the latest sign of nuclear troubles, a reactor at the Yuzhnaya power plant suffered a malfunction in a transformer Tuesday, forcing plant officials to reduce its output by 20 percent, the state nuclear energy company Energoatom said. It said no radiation was released.

-- a (a@a.a), March 24, 1999

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