Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Man Found With Explosives at Swedish Nuclear Plant

By Janina Pfalzer and Niklas Magnusson

May 21 (Bloomberg) -- Swedish authorities detained a man at the Oskarshamn nuclear power plant in the country's southeast after detecting traces of explosives on a bag he was carrying.

Police are investigating the substance, according to OKG AB, which operates the facility. The explosive material may have carried traces of tiacetone triperoxide, or TATP, OKG told police. The power plant, owned by German utility E.ON AG, was partially sealed off, without disrupting operations.

The man, a contractor welder, was stopped on his way into work in a security check. OKG contacted police shortly before 8 a.m. local time after three tests showed traces of a high- explosive substance, Kalmar county police spokesman Sven-Erik Karlsson said in an interview. Bomb specialists from Malmoe in southern Sweden have been called in to aid the investigation.

``OKG has told us they think it is TATP, but until our bomb technicians get there and analyze the substance we don't know for sure,'' Karlsson said.

The substance was detected on the outside of a bag the contractor was carrying, said Roger Bergman, a spokesman for the power plant operator. The plant received no bomb threat prior to today's incident, he said.

Oskarshamn is located in southeast Sweden, and OKG is majority owned by E.ON. Fortum Oyj of Finland also owns a stake. Oskarshamn's three reactors have a total capacity of 2,215 megawatts, enough to meet some 10 percent of Sweden's electricity needs. One of the reactors is currently offline for maintenance.

Drugs, Alcohol

Sweden has 10 nuclear reactors in total that account for about half of its generation capacity. In July 2006, the Forsmark plant reported a fault and had to be shut down when a back-up power failure led to an emergency shutdown of the reactor. Other plants were also forced to shut down for tests and improvements.

Vattenfall AB, the region's largest utility, sent home six workers at Forsmark in 2006 because they had used drugs and alcohol. The incidents and the discovery of an inferior ``safety culture'' prompted Vattenfall to strengthen its nuclear safety policies. Saab AB, a Swedish defense company, is in the process of improving security at Oskarshamn.

While Sweden voted in a 1980 referendum to phase out nuclear power by 2010, a 1995 government investigation found that such a move would be impossible both economically and environmentally. The country instead opted to close down the Barsebaeck plant in southern Sweden and boost output at the other plants. They are likely to run to as long as 2025, according to the World Nuclear Association.

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