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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

At Chernobyl, Two Mishaps

KIEV -- Two technical mishaps occurred during an inspection of the Chernobyl nuclear power station, officials said Wednesday, embarrassing Ukrainian authorities resisting pressure to close the plant.


Ukraine's nuclear safety inspectorate said the incidents occurred Monday and Tuesday at the plant, site of the world's worst nuclear accident in 1986.


There was no increase in radiation but one of the incidents was recorded at level one on the seven-point international scale of nuclear accidents. It delayed reconnection to the power grid of one of two reactors still in operation at Chernobyl.


Both took place during a 10-day inspection by experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) following a report which said Chernobyl was unsafe. Their conclusions will be discussed at a meeting opening in Vienna on Thursday.


"It was unfortunate this happened on the eve of the IAEA report," Tatyana Yagish, a spokeswoman for the state nuclear authority said by telephone. "It could emotionally influence the inspectors who were here." Vadim Hryshchenko of the nuclear safety inspectorate said an alarm system was set off on Monday in the third reactor as officials tried to reconnect it to the power grid.


They said the incident, rated one on the international scale, was triggered by a drop in water levels after a short circuit in a cable.


On Tuesday, a controlling arm failed while moving nuclear fuel into place in the older first reactor, sending a container banging into adjacent installations. There was no damage and the incident was rated zero.


IAEA spokesman David Kyd said officials were studying the incidents.


"Details so far are sketchy and we have nothing in writing from the plant," he said. "I suspect that we will find that the incident will rank no more than zero or one on our scale."


The IAEA team was inspecting Chernobyl after a report saying the plant's operation was unsafe.


The United States has demanded Chernobyl's closure. A U.S.-Ukrainian agreement signed this month provides for the plant to be shut down once the former Soviet republic finds alternative energy sources. Ukraine's parliament last year reversed a 1991 decision to close down Chernobyl for good, citing energy shortages and dependence on expensive Russian fuel.