MOSCOW, November 5 (RIA Novosti) – The safety system at a nuclear power plant in a remote Russian Arctic region automatically shut down one of its reactors on Tuesday, Russia’s nuclear utility said.
The reason for the shutdown of the Unit One of the Bilibino nuclear plant in Russia’s most northeasterly region of Chukotka remains unclear. Radiation levels in the 30-kilometer (19-mile zone) are within the normal background range, according to state-owned nuclear utility Rosenergoatom.
The Bilibino nuclear plant, built on top of permafrost, was commissioned in the 1970s and has four reactors. Units Two and Four are in operation and Unit Three has been shut down for repairs.
The power plant is the only source of heat and electricity for the eponymous Arctic Circle town of about 5,500 inhabitants, where temperatures have already fallen to about -22 degrees Centigrade (-8 degree Fahrenheit).
Bellona, a Norway-based environmental organization, reported in 2010 that the power plant’s safety systems had exceeded their 30-year life span by the early 2000s, but are still in service. It is unclear whether they have been upgraded since.