Russian nuclear reactor shuts down during St. Petersburg storm


A nuclear reactor at a power plant near St. Petersburg, Russia, shut down after heavy winds and rain damaged a generator and triggered automatic emergency measures.

The reactor in power block No. 2 at the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant shut down after two connected generators failed, Russia's atomic power operator said on Saturday. The plant's other two reactors were operating normally and radiation levels were safe, Rosenergoatom said on its Web site. Generator No. 4 at power block No. 2 short-circuited at 6:52 a.m. local time and generator No. 3 shut down when a vacuum tube broke 23 minutes later, Rosenergoatom said. The plant is located in Sosnovy Bor, a St. Petersburg suburb about 70 kilometers (43 miles) east of Estonia and 100 kilometers from Finland. A storm blew in from the Baltic Sea overnight, lashing St. Petersburg and was flooding parts of the city, state television showed.

The same weather system knocked out power to 2% of Estonia's population and to 10,000 businesses and organizations, Interfax reported on Saturday from Tallinn, capital of the former Soviet state. The storm was expected to subside in the afternoon, the news service said, citing the Estonian Hydrometeorology Institute. The reactors in the Leningrad plant were of the same design as the ones the Soviets used in Chernobyl, site of the world's worst nuclear accident. A chemical explosion 20 years ago at Chernobyl, about 130 kilometers north of Ukraine's capital Kiev, released radiation that spread across the region, exposing 8.4 million people and killing an untold number. Last December, a furnace for processing radioactive material at the Leningrad plant exploded, killing one worker and inuring tow others. (Bloomberg)

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