Slovenia shuts nuclear plant due to coolant leak

Thursday, June 5, 2008

LJUBLJANA, June 4 (Reuters) - Slovenia's only nuclear power plant was shut down on Wednesday because of a water leak but there was no impact on the environment and the situation was "fully under control", Slovenian and EU officials said.

"The plant was shut down and the leakage was located already. Now the plant will have to cool down for a day or so before the leakage can be repaired," Andrej Stritar, head of the Slovenian Nuclear Safety Administration, told Reuters.

"I expect it will be shut down for a few days. However, there is no impact on the environment, the matter is under control," he added.

The Krsko nuclear plant, which is jointly owned by Slovenia and its neighbour Croatia, is located in south-eastern Slovenia, close to the border with Croatia.

The European Commission said in an initial statement that the European Union executive's emergency response system ECURIE had received an alert message from Slovenia at 5.38 p.m. (1538 GMT).

The message said there had been a loss of coolant in the primary cooling system of the Krsko nuclear power plant.

In a later statement, the Commission said it had been informed by the Slovenian authorities that the reactor had been completely shut down at 7.30 p.m. local time.

"The relatively small leakage remained within the containment building. The Slovenian authorities have confirmed that there has been no discharge to the environment. The situation can be considered fully under control," the Commission statement said.

As a matter of standard procedure, the Commission had passed this information to all EU member states, using ECURIE, an early warning system used in the event of a radiological or nuclear emergency.

In Vienna, the watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency said the IAEA's Incident and Emergency Centre was informed of an "unusual event" at the Krsko plant at 6.20 p.m. local time and that it was manually shut down without radiation leakage.

An "unusual event" is the lowest level of emergency out of four levels as defined by the SNSA, an IAEA statement said.
(Reporting by Marja Novak; Additional reporting by Huw Jones in Brussels and Mark Heinrich in Vienna; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

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