MOSCOW — A Communist Party official revealed today that radiation exposure was still a problem at the damaged Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the Ukraine and said three fatal accidents had occurred there this year.
V. Lukyanenko, head of the party in the new town of Slavutich built to house Chernobyl staff, said directors of the power plant had been disciplined for security violations by plant personnel during the extraction of nuclear fuel.
"In the past 10 months in our organizations there have been 36 accidents, including three with fatal consequences," Lukyanenko said in a party report published in the newspaper Sotsialisticheskya Industria.
"Despite the measures which have been taken, incidents of (radiation) overdoses have not been excluded up to the present time," he said.
The published sections of Lukyanenko's report did not make clear whether the fatalities were linked to radiation exposure.
The world's worst nuclear accident occurred at Chernobyl on April 26, 1986, when the plant's fourth reactor exploded and caught fire, spewing radiation over a huge area. At least 31 people were killed, according to Soviet officials.
The fourth reactor was entombed in reinforced concrete, and Soviet officials announced last December that radiation leakage had halted. Repairs on the adjacent third reactor continue, while the first two units resumed energy production last year.
Lukyanenko said three plant officials had been disciplined by the party for an incident last June entailing the extraction of nuclear fuel from the plant's second reactor. Details of the incident were not provided.
Lukyanenko said the plant's directors and even the workers themselves had failed to make security a priority.