Critics demand US shut down Hanford reactor permanently

The Energy Department's decision to shut down temporarily the only American nuclear reactor similar to the Soviet Chernobyl plant has not satisfied critics who say it is dangerous and should be closed permanently. The department announced Friday that the 23-year-old N Reactor at the Hanford nuclear reservation will be closed for six months to make $50 million in safety modifications recommended by an expert panel in the wake of the Chernobyl disaster.

Like the Chernobyl plant, the N Reactor does not have the thick concrete and steel containment dome that has been built over most US commercial reactors to keep radioactive steam from spreading into the atmosphere in the event of an accident.

The shutdown will begin in three weeks, Energy Undersecretary Joseph Salgado told a news conference in Washington, D.C.

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