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Soviets Confirm Accident at Leningrad Nuclear Plant in 1975

June 15, 1990 GMT

HELSINKI, Finland (AP) _ The Soviet Union confirmed Thursday that a major accident occurred at a nuclear power plant in Leningrad in 1975, Finnish officials said.

The officials said the nuclear reactors in the Leningrad plant were similar to those at Chernobyl and that the accident was ″possibly of grade 3 - in other words, a serious accident.″

Radioactivity spread over parts of northern Europe in April 1986 after the reactor exploded at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in the Soviet republic of Ukraine. At least 31 people were killed as a direct result of that nuclear accident, the worst in history.

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However, the Finnish Center for Radiation and Nuclear Safety said no radiation from the 1975 accident was detected in Finland, 60 miles at the nearest point from the plant. It made no mention of any casualties.

The center said the accident occurred when ″the fuel channel of the number one reactor unit at the Leningrad nuclear plant was damaged on Nov. 30, 1975, when it was started up, and short-term radioactive substances were released into the atmosphere.″

The recorded message said the information came from Soviet nuclear officials after inquiries Thursday by the Finnish center.

The message said, according to Soviet authorities, the release of radioactivity was far less than the 1.5 million curies reported in earlier press accounts. The Soviets have said 50 million curies of radiation were released in the Chernobyl accident.

″Officials saw no reason to take special measures in the immediate vicinity of the power plant, and the reactor was back in use two weeks after the incident,″ the message added.

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