Nuclear power plant forced to shut reactor down after ‘spike in radioactivity’

A nuclear reactor has been forced to shut down after a "serious incident" at a power plant in Finland.

The situation is "stable" and the plant is safe, the country’s nuclear safety authority said but added that "no such event has happened in Finland before".

No radiation is believed to have escaped and the authority said there is no danger to people or the environment near the Olkiluoto 2 power plant.

Plant operator TVO said an automatic reactor was shut down after a "scram" was triggered at 12.22pm on December 10.

TVO spokesman Pasi Routamo told AFP: "It was shut down automatically for some reason which we don't know, and nothing really happened, there's no harm anywhere."

The system issued a scram after automatic systems detected raised levels of radioactivity in the steam pipes of the reactor's cooling system.

Mr Routamo said the cause of the spike is unknown but investigations are ongoing.

He said the Olkiluoto incident involves the so-called primary circuit pipes which are closer to the reactor and therefore face higher concentrations of radiation.

In a statement, the International Atomic Energy Agency said it had been informed of the incident and was in contact with Finnish authorities.

Mr Routamo added that the Olkiluoto 2 reactor will be "driven to a safer state" so that investigations can be carried out.

The Olkiluoto 2 reactor began operations in 1980 and Finland currently receives about a third of its energy from nuclear sources.

Finland is constructing two new nuclear projects but a third reactor at the Olkiluoto site is running over a decade behind schedule due to hold-ups with the plant's supplier.

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