Two arrested over bomb alert at nuclear plant connected with German energy group

22nd May 2008, Comments 0 comments

Two men are under suspicion of planning to sabotage a nuclear power plant in Sweden, prompting fears over the vulnerability of the energy source

Stockholm -- Two men were arrested Wednesday on suspicion of planning sabotage at a nuclear power plant in south-eastern Sweden, police said-but the reactors continued to operate as usual.

A spot security check revealed traces of an explosive in a bag used by a worker who was hired by a sub-contractor to carry out maintenance work at the plant, plant spokesmen and police said.

The man, a welder, was taken in for questioning and a 300-metre security cordon was also ordered, police spokesman Sven-Erik Karlsson said, declining to offer details on what the interview had revealed.

A second man was also arrested, also hired by a sub-contractor.

Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren said he was monitoring events, and that the event was a reminder of how vulnerable nuclear power is.

Police explosives experts from Malmo, southern Sweden, were searching the plant, including the reactor building where scheduled maintenance work was being conducted. The search that included sniffer dogs was expected to last until late Wednesday.

The plant is operated by energy groups E.ON of Germany and Finland's Fortum.

Oskarshamn has three reactors. Two were operating as usual while a third was undergoing routine maintenance, according to plant spokesman Roger Bergman.

"No threats had been received and we can continue to operate as usual," Bergman said.

The plant has some 900 employees, but the workforce has been increased with some 600 other workers hired to do maintenance work. All pass through security checks.

There were no details of what sort of explosives had been detected at the security check.

Anders Osterberg, head of information at the nuclear plant, said that the tracing equipment used could detect gunpowder or ammunition traces as well as other chemicals, which had triggered the alert.

An E.ON spokesman in Dusseldorf earlier said the traces could have come from a gunshot during hunting, a common pastime in Sweden. He said the case simply showed that the security checks at the power plant were very effective.

Sweden currently operates 10 nuclear reactors.

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