Another Three Russian Nuclear Reactors Offline After Short-circuit Malfunction at Power Plant

Three reactors at a Russian nuclear power plant have been taken offline following a short circuit, in what is the second operating incident affecting the national nuclear grid in one week.

Three of the four reactors at the Kalinin power plant were unplugged on Thursday, state news agency Tass reported. The nuclear facility sits just over 200 miles northwest of Moscow and has been in operation since 1985.

Tass cited emergency services in the nearby town of Udomlya who said the first, second and fourth reactors at the plant had been taken offline. The national Emergency Situations Ministry explained that the reactors were unplugged following a short circuit.

Rosenergoatom, a subsidiary of state nuclear corporation Rosatom, released a statement allaying any fears that the incident was cause for alarm. "The radiation level at the station and surrounding territory remains without change and is in line with normal background levels," the organization explained.

The Kalinin Plant Public Information Center told Tass its staff are currently investigating the cause of the short circuit, and that without an answer "we won't get permission to be connected to the grid. As we find out the reasons, we'll see which power units will be included and in what sequence. Powering up the units is tentatively expected before July 19."

The Kalinin facility is one of ten nuclear power plants operating in Russia, The Moscow Times explained. In 2016, electrical equipment in the power unit of Kalinin's third reactor short-circuited during repair works, injuring two people.

The Kalinin incident is the second involving Russia's nuclear sites in the past week. On Friday, a reactor was shut down at a plant in the central Russian city of Beloyarsk, just over 900 miles east of Moscow.

The reactor was disconnected after an automatic safety mechanism was triggered, Tass reported. No safety issues were found and the reactor resumed operation on Tuesday.

These most recent nuclear incidents come at a time of increasing public confidence in nuclear power in Russia, according to a new poll published Wednesday.

The independent Levada Center survey found that only 30 percent of Russian respondents believe a nuclear accident on the scale of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster could happen in the coming years. This is significantly down from the 69 percent who thought it possible in 2000, The Moscow Times noted.

Kalinin, nuclear, plant, malfunction
Cars drive by a checkpoint at the Kalinin nuclear power plant, in Udomlya, Russia, on March 18, 2011. ANDREY SMIRNOV/AFP/Getty