Experts: Iran blames broken pump for atom fuel removal

February 28, 2011 19:24

VIENNA - Iran is believed to have told the UN atomic watchdog a broken pump is forcing it to remove fuel from its first nuclear power reactor, a new setback for the $1 billion project, experts familiar with the issue said on Monday.

They said it was a potentially significant problem likely to cause further delays for the Russian-built Bushehr plant, which has yet to start injecting power into Iran's national grid.

One independent expert said the problem apparently concerned an old back-up pump in the reactor.

"I think what happened is that the pump failed but it didn't just fail, it broke up, so that ... there are pieces of metal that are now circulated throughout the primary cooling system," the expert told Reuters.

If not fixed, it could ultimately have led to a small radioactive leakage into the reactor's cooling water.

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