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UPDATE 2-Slovenia expects nuclear plant to restart next week

(Adds nuclear plant’s CEO)

LJUBLJANA, June 5 (Reuters) - Slovenia’s only nuclear plant, which was shut down on Wednesday because of a water leak, is expected to start operating again next week, the plant’s chief executive told Reuters on Thursday.

“We will replace the valve that was leaking tomorrow and then start testing the plant and prepare it to safely resume operations on Tuesday or Wednesday,” Stane Rozman said.

“The leakage had no influence on the environment and there will be no radioactive radiation,” Rozman said.

Economy Minister Andrej Vizjak told a news conference in Ljubljana the leakage occurred on a valve that was part of a system that measures the water temperature, adding the leaked water was caught in appropriate containers.

“This was an entirely non-dangerous event for people, employees, the environment, nature,” Vizjak said.

Andrej Stritar, the head of the Slovenian Nuclear Safety Administration, said some 10 to 15 cubic metres of water had leaked from a cooling system that held a total of 150 cubic metres.

“The water level did not fall as water was constantly being added to the system,” Stritar told a separate news conference.

The European Commission was informed of the malfunction on Wednesday and passed a precautionary alert to other EU countries through its emergency response system.

Rozman said the plant produces some 16 million kilowatt hours of electricity per day to the value of some 1 million euros ($1.54 million), adding the production is equally divided between Slovenia and Croatia which jointly own the plant.

He said both countries had found other electricity supply sources to avoid disruption while the Krsko plant is shut down.

The plant, in southeastern Slovenia near the border with Croatia, opened in 1983 and is due to close in 2023. The plant was built in cooperation with Westinghouse Electric Corporation.

Slovenia is considering building a second reactor in Krsko which could start operating in 2017. (Reporting by Marja Novak and Manca Ulcar, editing by Zoran Radosavljevic and Janet Lawrence)

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