Russia's nuke plant closed over leak fears

Russia's nuclear safety agency Gosatomnadzor has shut a reprocessing plant at one of its biggest nuclear sites over fears it is contaminating drinking water, officials said on Monday, in an unprecedented crackdown on crumbling nuclear facilities. The plant is part of the Mayak facility in the formerly closed Urals city of Ozyorsk, the site of the worst nuclear disaster on Russian territory five decades ago, when hundreds of thousands of people were exposed to radiation.

Environmental group Greenpeace says anyone who stands by the lake near the plant for more than an hour could be exposed to fatal levels of radiation, which they say are 350,000 times higher than normal.

Russian environment pressure group Ecodefence said by improving standards to satisfy rules of the US Department of State, the Russians hoped to win lucrative contracts to reprocess US spent nuclear fuel. Some 80 percent of the world's spent nuclear fuel stockpiles are under US jurisdiction, the Russia Journal reported.

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