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Reactor at Chernobyl shut down after power problem
Copyright ) 1999 Nando Media Copyright ) 1999 Associated Press
Nando's in-depth coverage of The Confrontation Over Kosovo.
KIEV, Ukraine (March 29, 1999 9:56 p.m. EST http://www.nandotimes.com) - Workers cut power at the Chernobyl nuclear plant's only working reactor due to a generator problem Monday, while another nuclear plant underwent an emergency shut down, officials said. No radiation leaks were reported, the plant's press service said.
Chernobyl was the site of the world's worst nuclear accident in 1986 that destroyed its reactor No. 4. Ukraine has pledged to fully close the plant by 2000 but says it needs Western aid to help it complete two new nuclear plants to compensate for Chernobyl's lost power.
The former Soviet republic is heavily dependent on nuclear power, which accounts for more than 40 percent of the nation's electricity needs.
The northwestern Rivne nuclear plant's reactor No. 3 was completely shut down early Monday by its automatic safety system.
Plant experts were investigating the cause of the malfunction, which did not result in a radiation leak and was not dangerous to the reactor's safety, the state nuclear energy Energoatom said.
The reactor was expected to be restarted by Sunday, Energoatom said.
Ukraine's nuclear officials acknowledge that the number of reactor malfunctions at the country's five nuclear plants is increasing because plants cannot afford to fully finance reactor safety upgrades.
Last week, output was reduced at the Zaporizhia and Yuzhnaya nuclear plants, and plant officials said the measure was taken to save nuclear fuel. The plants lack money to buy more.
The government's financial shortfalls have also resulted in demonstrations by nuclear plant employees demanding $40 million in overdue wages.
Ukraine's emergency officials also tried to allay public fears Monday that recent flooding in the contaminated Chernobyl nuclear plant zone would spread radioactive particles and affect household water supplies.
Residents are worried about the Pripyat river, which flows through Belarus and passes the "exclusion zone" around Chernobyl before entering the main water reservoir for the Ukrainian capital Kiev.
A snowy winter followed by warm weather in recent days has caused the Pripyat to overflow, and Ukrainian media have carried alarming reports that excess water could wash away radioactive particles from the 20-mile zone and carry them into the Dnipro River, on which the capital is located.
This is not good news, can't upgrade safety, no money for fuel....
-- helium (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 30, 1999
That article focused on that one area -- not mentioning to readers that the USA is pretty damn dependent on nuclear power, too. If we shut down our nuke plants, even if everything else is compliant, we are still going to be very short on energy.
PJ in TX
-- PJ Gaenir (email@example.com), March 30, 1999.