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Still ticking

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Sept. 18, 1997, 1 a.m. |
More than 11 years after it produced history's worst nuclear power accident, the Chernobyl plant is still the world's most dangerous, new survey finds. station said Tuesday Sept. 16. The World Association of Nuclear Operators, known as WANO, also said Chernobyl was the least safe reactor of the 50 that the independent non-governmental organization has inspected worldwide. An explosion in 1986 at Chernobyl's fourth reactor killed at least 32 people in the world's worst nuclear accident. Reactor three, which is undergoing annual repairs and is scheduled to be restarted in October, is in “very bad condition,” the association said in a statement. The association also criticized workers at the Ukrainian plant, saying they lacked a “culture of safety” needed to prevent an accident. It said safety measures at Chernobyl are insufficient in case of a bad fire like the one that led to the definitive closing of reactor number two in 1991. And certain safety measures recommended after the 1986 explosion have not been implemented, it added. “All of these deficiencies in security have led to the conclusion that the plant presents a margin of safety that is unacceptable, and is by far the least safe reactor of the 50 examined until now by the WANO,” the statement said. Ukraine has pledged to close Chernobyl by the year 2000, but the government has stressed it may be unable to do so if Western aid does not flow in faster. The association said it had transmitted its findings to the Ukrainian government, which is now preparing a list of improvements to be made before the reactor is restarted. A Ukrainian government report on the safety of the reactor is being prepared, and is expected to be delivered to Western nations helping to finance the station, the statement said.
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