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Ukraine: IAEA on Chernobyl Reports

Vienna, 25 September 1996 (RFE/RL) -- The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said no Western expert believes another explosion at Chernobyl's reactor Number Four is likely. And the chief spokesman for the Vienna-based United Nation agency, David Kyd, said reports on recent increases in radition levels are "confusing", but that there is "no reason for alarm."

"The reason for periodic rises in radiation from the concrete-and-steel encased reactor might never be known" Kyd told RFE/RL. And he noted similar still unexplained increases in radition in June 1990, and January of this year.

"While radiation levels rose slightly this month within the containment structure around the exploded reactor, there was no corresponding rise in temperature, which would signal real danger," Kyd said.

Kyd, along with Ukrainian authorities today, said rain leaking into the structure might have affected the instruments monitoring the crippled reactor.

Ukraine's top security official, Security Council Secretary Volodymyr Horbulyn, said today there was no indication a chain reaction had occurred within the reactor. But he did say the sarcophagus encasing the reactor needed to be replaced, calling it "the biggest threat in Ukraine today." Earlier, Ukraine's Minister For Environmental Protection and Nuclear Safety, Yuri Kostenko, said a nuclear chain reaction could be taking place within the reactor adding that an explosion was not likely, though possible.

Nearly 40 percent of Ukraine's electrical energy is produced by nuclear reactors. Chernobyl's two operating reactors produce about seven percent of the total, and almost all of Kyiv's energy needs.