Imgae: Authorities at Oskarshamn nuclear plant
Paul Madej  /  AFP - Getty Images
Authorities seal off the Oskarshamn nuclear plant in southeastern Sweden on Wednesday after a welder arrived for work with a plastic bag containing traces of an explosive substance TAPT, police and plant officials said. news services
updated 5/21/2008 9:15:54 AM ET 2008-05-21T13:15:54

Two people were arrested Wednesday after a worker was stopped at the entrance of a Swedish nuclear plant with a bag containing traces of an explosive which has been used in terror attacks.

Police said a welder was stopped during a random security check at the facility. Plant spokesman Roger Bergman said a second suspect was arrested because "there is some uncertainty about who owns the bag."

Sven-Erik Karlsson, spokesman for Kalmar County Police, said officers were called to the Oskarshamn nuclear plant on the country's southeast coast at 7:58 a.m. local time.

"They told us a welder who was going to perform a job there had been stopped in a random security check. He had been carrying small amounts of the highly explosive material TATP," Karlsson said.

'Shoebomber' material
TATP, or triacetone triperoxide, is a high explosive which is extremely unstable, especially when subjected to heat, friction and shock. It is more powerful than dynamite.

The compound can be prepared in a home laboratory from easily available household chemicals. It has been employed by suicide bombers in Israel and by Richard Reid, the thwarted British "shoebomber" who attempted to blow up a transatlantic airliner in 2001. The explosive was also used in the London bombings in 2005.

However, plant spokesman Anders Osterberg said only traces of the substance were found on the bag's handle, suggesting it may have rubbed off from the man's hands.

"The bag contained toiletries, but a test found traces of the substance on the bag's handle," Osterberg told The Associated Press.

He stressed there was no threat to the plant, but added that the incident was being taken seriously.

"It's not something you use at home," he said. "We're not dealing with toys here."

Explosive has no civilian use
A tiny amount of TATP would be enough to blow off a person's hand, said Svante Karlsson, a weapons expert at the Swedish Defense Research Agency.

"It is very unstable, very sensitive to both friction and shocks," he said, adding the substance has no civilian use.

The Oskarshamn plant has three nuclear reactors, which account for about 10 percent of electricity produced in Sweden

Karlsson said police have set up a security perimeter with a 985-feet radius around the plant. He says workers already inside were not evacuated and the plant was operating normally.

© 2013


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