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Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Shut

December 15, 2000

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) _ Operators shut down the Chernobyl nuclear power plant with the flip of a switch Friday, closing the plant for good 14 years after it spawned the world’s worst nuclear accident.

Ukraine President Leonid Kuchma gave the shutdown order from Kiev over a video linkup with the plant, located some 85 miles away. A Chernobyl operator pushed a switch activating the automatic safety system of the plant’s only working reactor, sending containment rods sliding into the reactor core.

The simple procedure ended the long, troubled run of a facility that became a synonym for nuclear fears and the dangers of atomic power.

The shutdown, which followed years of intense international pressure, should erase the danger of future accidents at the plant. Yet Ukraine will suffer the effects of the 1986 Chernobyl accident for years to come: Millions of its citizens are affected by radiation-related ailments.

The leaders of this former Soviet republic said they were undertaking a historic mission in closing down the last functioning reactor at Chernobyl.

``The world will become a safer place. People will sleep in peace,″ Kuchma said Thursday during a ceremony to commemorate the shutdown.

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