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The operators of the Rancho Seco nuclear power station said they would begin shutting down the plant Wednesday after voters for the first time ordered the closure of an operating reactor. With all precincts reporting, 53.4 percent of Sacramento County voters rejected a measure that would have kept the plant operating, with 46.6 voting in favor. About 40 percent of registered voters turned out.

Public Citizen, a group formed in 1971 by Ralph Nader, said in a statement that the vote ``marks the beginning of the end for nuclear power in the United States.''

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Tuesday's vote was not binding on the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, which owns the plant, but a majority of its elected board members had promised to follow the will of the people.

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