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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

St. Pete Nuclear Plant Safety Alarm Sounds

ST. PETERSBURG — Officials at St. Petersburg’s LAES nuclear power plant said this week that a false alarm had triggered a radiation safety system in the plant’s dormant No. 4 reactor and there was no danger to the public.

Karl Rendel, chief spokesman for Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant, located 80 kilometers outside of St. Petersburg, told Interfax the safety system had malfunctioned at 5.30 a.m. Tuesday morning. But he added that the reactor has been turned off for two years for maintenance — part of a $900 million retooling of the plant — so the event "was not even an incident."

According to LAES’s web site (, the safety system triggered was the AZ-5, which upon detection of high radiation levels shuts down a reactor, said industry expert Igor Kudrik of the Bellona Foundation.

"If such a malfunction can occur with such an important warning device, it doesn’t bode well for the effectiveness of the safety system," Kudrik added.

LAES operates on four Chernobyl-style RBMK-1,000 reactors that have now been in service for 27 years.

In 1992, a reactor accident sent a cloud of radioactivity over northern Europe. LAES initially denied the incident.

In 1998, LAES’s reactor No. 2 was shut down twice because of radiation leaks. Plant officials vociferously insisted the only malfunction was within a water purification system. Three months later, the plant admitted to the radiation leaks.