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Nuclear water spilled at Canadian reactor

SAINT JOHN, New Brunswick, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Canadian nuclear officials were investigating Wednesday how a small amount of radioactive water leaked from a nuclear reactor in New Brunswick a day earlier.

The leak of so-called heavy water happened just before 4 p.m. at the Point Lepreau plant on the southwest tip of the province and prompted the evacuation of the idle generating station, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

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The plant is owned by the NB Power Corp., and has been offline for a $1.4 billion refurbishment for the past four years.

Spokeswoman Kathleen Duguay told the CBC by e-mail the leak hadn't created a "significant impact to the public or environment" and had been contained.

"When we transfer heavy water to the moderator system, it is not out of the ordinary for our radiation monitoring equipment to record any presence of tritium," she wrote. "This is contained inside the reactor building."

There was no indication when the plant will be operational again. It is the only nuclear facility in the Atlantic provinces. Its operating license renewal is under consideration by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, the CBC said.

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