Water reported leaking into Chernobyl's sarcophagus

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Water reported leaking into Chernobyl's sarcophagus Filed: 08/28/2000

KIEV, Ukraine (AP)  A large amount of water has leaked into the sarcophagus covering a reactor destroyed in the 1986 explosion at Ukraine's Chernobyl nuclear power plant, but radiation levels in the water flowing out of the structure are normal, officials said Monday.

Water has seeped into the giant sarcophagus since it was built, but more than twice as much leaked inside last month following heavy rains. As a result, water for the first time entered nine rooms, officials monitoring the sarcophagus said in a statement.

Radioactivity levels in the water coming out of the shelter were still at permitted levels, the statement said.

The sarcophagus was hastily constructed to cover the reactor that exploded and caught fire in 1986, spewing a giant radioactive cloud over parts of Europe in the world's worst nuclear disaster.

With the help of foreign funds, Ukraine is trying to make the structure environmentally safe. It is believed to contain tons of radioactive fuel and dust.

Only one of Chernobyl's four reactors is still operational. Due to international pressure, Ukraine has promised to shut down the plant for good in December.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), August 29, 2000

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