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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Slovenia nuclear plant shut down after water leak

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia (AP) — Slovenia shut down the reactor at its only nuclear power plant after a water leak Wednesday, but the country's atomic watchdog agency said there was no danger to people or the environment.

Slovene authorities reported a loss of coolant occurred in the primary cooling system at the Krsko electricity generating station and the plant was completely shut down, the European Union's executive body said.

The reactor was still cooling but there appeared to be no discharge of radioactivity from the plant in northwest Slovenia, the EU statement said. The Environment Ministry in neighboring Austria said radiation readings in the area had remained "within normal levels."

Slovenia's Nuclear Safety Administration said the reactor was shut down "as a precaution" so technicians could determine what caused the coolant to leak.

The head of the agency, Dr. Andrej Stritar, said in the statement that "there has been no impact on the environment and none is expected." He added that workers at the plant and other people in the area had not been affected.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. body that monitors nuclear accidents, said in a statement that its Incident and Emergency Center "is gathering information and there will be a better assessment when we have facts in our hand."

First word of the leak came in an alert issued by the EU's executive body to the bloc's 27 member nations that Slovene authorities had reported an incident at the nuclear plant.

The EU said later that the alert from Slovenia came at 5:38 p.m. The information was immediately passed on to all EU nations and an emergency team at the EU's energy directorate was placed on alert, it said.

The Krsko plant was built in the 1980s and is jointly owned by Slovenia and neighboring Croatia. The facility generates about 5 billion kilowatts of electricity a year, or roughly 40 percent of Slovenia's energy needs, its operators said.

(Source: AP)

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