Russian nuclear power plant taken offline after ‘steam leak’ reported, officials say radiation levels ‘normal’ & repairs underway
A Russian nuclear power plant in the southern region of Rostov has detected a steam leak and initiated emergency protocols, RIA Novosti reported early on Thursday. One unit of the plant is said to have been shut down in response.
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.” The facility is located in the town of Volgodonsk, some 200km east of the regional capital, Rostov-on-don.
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 launched.
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.”
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 quoted a plant official as saying. “It carries pure steam, where, in principle, there is no radioactivity.”
However, later on Thursday, the plant’s management denied that any leaks had been discovered and said that the reactor was “disconnected” due to problems with the network. According to them, the decision was taken after “an urgent request to carry out routine maintenance on heat and power equipment.”
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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