Danger zone

Published: Friday 31 July 1998

fresh leaks from the Chernobyl nuclear plant have revived fears about whether the plant should stay open. Recently, officials suddenly closed the plant's only working reactor. Authorities admitted that there was a slight radioactive leak. However, the reactor was reopened after assurances that all was well. Vadim Grichenko, a senior official in the Ukrainian ministry for environment and nuclear safety, has ruled out radioactive contamination around the plant.

According to reports, the leak was noticed outside the core of the reactor. This point was never considered particularly sensitive, Grichenko said. However, he did not reveal the seriousness of the incident. Also, the authorities have been unable to explain why the reactor was not immediately shut down after the radioactive leak was noticed. The radioactive leak occurred a month after the reactor was restarted after 10 months of repairs during which 338 cracks were discovered in its piping system.

Grickenko said that it is not normal to have such a leak only one month after extensive repair work. Several people have questioned the safety of the reactor.

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