Russian officials are shutting down Reactor No. 1 at the 38-year-old Sosnovy Bor nuclear power plant, located south of St Petersburg.
Finland's Swedish-language daily Hufvudstadsbladet reported on Thursday that the Finnish Radiation Safety Authority STUK was informed of the move on Tuesday, and has expressed satisfaction with the decision.
"On Tuesday we heard that the oldest reactor is being shut down and will remain closed indefinitely. We are very pleased about this," Heikki Reponen told the newspaper. He heads STUK's unit focusing on neighbouring area cooperation with Russia.
Surprisingly quick deterioration
Officials decided to close the reactor because of swelling and cracking of the graphite it used as a moderator.
According to Reponen, STUK has been monitoring the situation at Sosnovy Bor carefully since the graphite problem was identified at the end of last year.
"The rapid changes in the graphite came as a surprise to us," says Reponen. He adds that STUK is also pleased with the openness on the issue from Russian officials.
Sosnovy Bor, which has four reactors, is one of Russia's three remaining graphite nuclear power plants like the one in Chernobyl that suffered a meltdown in 1986. Two similar reactors in Lithuania were closed in 2004 and 2009.
Rosenergoatom, the energy utility that runs Sosnovy Bor, has estimated the lifespan of a graphite reactor at between 40 and 45 years. Reactor No. 1 was built in 1974.
A new reactor of a different type is under construction near St Petersburg.
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