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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chernobyl Reactor Shuts After Cooling Pipe Bursts

KIEV -- A burst pipe has caused the shutdown of a reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, site of the world's worst nuclear accident, authorities said Tuesday.


The closure came after a pipe, which carries water used to cool nuclear fuel rods, burst Monday, raising further concerns about the safety of the plant. The Ukrainian government refuses to shut the whole plant down despite Western recommendations.


Monday's incident at the plant's reactor No. 9 was described as "minor" by Viktor Hrynov, deputy chairman of Ukraine's State Control Committee.


There was no serious damage and no risk to personnel, Hrynov said, as the incident occurred in a restricted area.


Hrynov would not comment on how much water leaked out or give the level of radioactivity of the water.


He confirmed that "a level of radiation was present in the spillage," and said it lasted for at least 13 minutes from the time the spill was first monitored until the shutdown at 11:43 A.M. on Monday.


The reactor should be reopened within four to seven days, he estimated.


Chernobyl's reactor No. 4 exploded April 26, 1986, releasing a cloud of radioactive particles. The explosion killed at least 32 people, and thousands more may have died from radiation exposure.


In 1991, a fire forced Chernobyl's reactor No. 2 to shut down indefinitely.


The Ukrainian government last year reversed an earlier decision to close the plant. Chernobyl generates about 7 percent of the country's electricity.