Russians confirm Iran nuke reactor damage

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

MOSCOW/TEHRAN - In a statement, Russia’s state nuclear energy corporation, Rosatom, which is building the reactor in Bushehr, Iran, said it found damage to one of the reactor’s four main cooling pumps.

That breakdown, it said, necessitated removal of the fuel core and an inspection of the reactor and its fuel assemblies to make sure they harbored no metal particles or chips.

According to the New York Times, the detection of metal shards would prompt a thorough cleaning.

It quoted one official, as saying that there could be a startup delay of up to two months.

Michael L. Corradini, a nuclear engineer at the University of Wisconsin, said that metallic debris whirling through a reactor’s cooling water posed no danger but that it would act as an abrasive that caused wear and tear, shortening the reactor’s life.

“It’s an operational issue, not an ordinary occurrence at all,” ” he said in an interview.

Last Friday, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran told inspectors that it was planning to unload nuclear fuel from the reactor in Bushehr, on the Persian Gulf. Iran gave no explanation.

For years, Tehran has hailed the reactor as a showcase of its peaceful nuclear intentions and has pointed to its impending startup as a sign of quickening progress.

Bushehr is Iran’s first nuclear power plant. (ANI)

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