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Russian nuclear power plant begins emergency reactor shutdown after steam leak detected, officials say radiation levels ‘normal’

In a statement, an emergency services representative told RIA Novosti that “Unit Two at Rostov Nuclear Power Plant has been shut down and put on maintenance because of a steam leak.” 

FILE PHOTO: Official at the Rostov nuclear power plant works in the block control panel room of the second unit, 28.03.2011 © Sputnik / Grigory Sysoev

According to the source, no injuries are reported due to the incident, the levels of radiation are safe and the plant’s three remaining reactors are operating normally. An investigation has reportedly been begun.

The plant’s press service has since told Moscow daily RBK that “at 00:54am, in the technical room of power unit Number Two, a spike was detected. According to the approved protocols, the power unit’s capacity was decreased by disconnecting it from the network. The reactor plant is currently in cool down mode. Work is underway on the thermal mechanical equipment.”

“The radiation background at the Rostov Nuclear Power Plant is at a level corresponding to the normal operation of the reactors and does not exceed naturally-occurring background values.”

READ MORE: Emergency shutdown at Russia’s Kursk nuclear plant

Another source told Interfax that a leak occurred due to a micro-crack on one of the conduits carrying pressurized steam. “This is the so-called secondary circuit, heat exchange equipment,” RIA Novosti quotes a plant official as saying. “It carries pure steam, where, in principle, there is no radioactivity.”

The foundations for the Rostov Nuclear Plant were laid in 1977 as part of the Soviet Union’s national energy program. Construction on Unit Two began in 1983, but work on the reactor was not completed until 2010. It is one of a large number of pressurized water reactors providing power across Russia and much of the former USSR.

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