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New Unit Set Up to Deal with Nuclear Emergencies

April 25, 1988 GMT

MOSCOW (AP) _ The government has created an organization to shut down aging Soviet nuclear power reactors and handle emergencies such as the accident two years ago at the Chernobyl station, Tass reported Monday.

The organization, called Spetsatom, is based in Pripyat, three miles from the Chernobyl plant in the Soviet republic of the Ukraine, the official news agency reported.

Spetsatom is to close 20 Soviet nuclear plants and modernize others. Tass said the first station the organization is taking out of service is the 210,000-kilowatt Novovoronezh plant in central Russia, which dates back to the early 1960s.

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Soviet reactors are designed to work for 30 to 40 years.

The April 26, 1986 explosion and fire at Chernobyl killed 31 people and sent a cloud of radiation around the world.

Spetsatom’s director, Yuri Samoilenko, told Tass that Western European and Japanese robots used to clear radioactive debris at Chernobyl were ″unfit to be used under those conditions. Their electronic brains quickly went out of order and they couldn’t be controlled.″

Spetsatom is developing its own robots to operate in areas contaminated by radioactivity, Tass said.

The Communist Party newspaper Pravda charged Sunday that nepotism, sloppy repairs and drunkenness are rampant at Chernobyl two years after the world’s worst nuclear power accident.