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LONDON (AP) – Spent fuel rods were accidentally dropped onto the reactor floor of a nuclear power plant in Scotland last week, its operator said Sunday.

British Nuclear Fuels stressed that the “low-level” incident during refueling Thursday in Chapelcross plant’s Reactor No. 3 posed minimal danger.

The reactor has been shut down while the company determines how to retrieve the 24 uranium rods, a spokesman said.

The government’s watchdog agency, the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, has launched an investigation.

The BNFL spokesman said the rods dropped about 2 feet to the floor during the remote-operated refueling operation.

A large cylindrical basket holding the irradiated fuel elements appeared to come loose as it was being lowered to a cooling pond, he said.

Emergency workers were called in and carbon dioxide was sprayed over the basket to ensure it did not catch fire.

“At no time was there any increase in radiation within the area and no personnel were affected,” he said. “There is also no indication that the fuel has been damaged.”

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Refueling has been suspended at all reactors in Chapelcross, just a few miles from Scotland’s border with England, and at another British plant that uses an identical system.

The spokesman said it was unclear how long it would take to recover the rods and complete the refueling.

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