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Higher radioactivity level at Bulgarian plant: operators

by Staff Writers
Sofia (AFP) April 27, 2011
Engineers detected higher levels of radioactivity in the containment reactor at Bulgaria's Kozloduy nuclear plant, prompting a shutdown that prevented any leak, operators said Wednesday.

"A higher level" of the radioactive gas xenon (Xe 133) was found during maintenance work on Tuesday morning in the primary circuit of Reactor 5, which was then shut down, the operators said in a statement.

While staff on duty were exposed to higher levels of radioactivity, it still represented less than a tenth of the annual dose permitted by safety officers.

"No increase in radioactivity was found outside the containment reactor," the statement added.

The level subsided to normal by the end of the afternoon.

The episode came on the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster when Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said that he had proposed a new convention on nuclear safety.

Kozloduy is Bulgaria's only nuclear plant, and it shut down four out of a total six reactors at the behest of the European Union in 2007 due to safety concerns.

The two 1,000-megawatt units that remain in operation at the 37-year-old plant are the most modern, built in 1987 and 1991, and brought up to date again a decade later.

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