news services
updated 5/22/2008 9:21:33 AM ET 2008-05-22T13:21:33

Two men arrested in an explosives scare that triggered a security alert at a Swedish nuclear plant have been released, officials said Thursday.

The two contractors were arrested on suspicion of plotting sabotage on Wednesday after one of them was stopped at the Oskarshamn nuclear plant carrying a plastic bag with traces of a highly explosive substance.

Police spokesman Kenth Andersson said the two men were released Thursday but declined to give other details. Prosecutor Gunilla Ohlin told The Associated Press that, "There was no reason to keep them under arrest anymore, but the suspicions against them remain."

That would suggest authorities do not have any strong evidence that the men were planning to attack the nuclear plant, about 150 miles south of Stockholm.

Suicide bombings
Police arrested the two men after security guards found a substance believed to be triacetone triperoxide, or TATP, on a plastic bag that one of them was carrying.

TATP is an explosive that has been used by suicide bombers in Israel and Britain as well as by Richard Reid, the British "shoebomber" who attempted to blow up a transatlantic airliner in 2001.

The substance is extremely unstable, especially when subjected to heat, friction and shock. It can be prepared in a home laboratory from easily available household chemicals.

The plant's operator, OKG, said no bomb was found and the incident did not pose a threat to the Oskarshamn generating station, which provides 10 percent of Sweden's electricity.

Reactor inspected
Nevertheless, officials stopped reactor O1 — one of the plant's three reactors — for inspections as a security precaution.

The two suspects had been performing maintenance work on the second reactor, O2, which was shut down for an annual review on May 11. However, plant spokesman Anders Osterberg said it could not be ruled out that the men had also accessed the O1 reactor area.

The power station's third reactor remained in operation.

Osterberg said shutting down a reactor normally results in lost income of about $840,000 per day, but added, "We don't like to put a price tag on safety."

Police did not release the suspects' identities, saying only that one was born in 1955 and the other in 1962 and both were Swedish citizens. The older suspect was known to police from prior investigations, police spokesman Sven-Erik Karlsson said.

Police raided their homes late Wednesday, but did not find anything suspicious, he said.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.


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