Chernobyl reactor shut shut down

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The Independent Online

The only working reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant was shut down when a leak was detected in a water pipe, just six days after the plant was restarted, officials said today.

The only working reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant was shut down when a leak was detected in a water pipe, just six days after the plant was restarted, officials said today.

Chernobyl operators found the tiny leak in a pipeline of the backup cooling system during a planned examination, the Chernobyl press service said. The water in the pipe does not work in the nuclear reactor itself, but provides pressure to the reactor's cooling system.

The reactor was turned off Wednesday, said Oleh Holoskokov, a Chernobyl spokesman. He said there were no radiation leaks.

Holoskokov said a week would be needed to repair the leak and that the reactor, the plant's only working one, should be restarted by Dec. 9.

Chernobyl was shut down for repairs on July 1 and was restarted last Friday.

Plant officials insist the reactor is safe, even though Western governments and environmental groups have urged the former Soviet republic to shut it down for good.

Chernobyl's reactor No. 4 exploded in 1986, sending a radioactive cloud over much of Europe. That reactor is covered by a steel-and-concrete sarcophagus that is currently undergoing repairs.

A 1995 agreement between Ukraine and the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations said the plant should be closed by the year 2000.

But Ukraine has said it doesn't have the $1.2 billion needed to finish construction of two new reactors to replace the output that would be lost by closing Chernobyl.

The government has said it plans to shut down the nuclear power plant sometime next year and has called on the West to provide the necessary funds.

Ukraine's five nuclear power plants, with 14 reactors, provide 40 percent of the country's electricity. At any given time, several of the reactors are down for repairs, but Ukraine says it can't afford to shut any of the plants down until more are built.

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