Fire in Czech nuclear station compound quickly put out

Monday, September 3, 2007

PRAGUE, Czech Republic - A fire broke out in an air-drying unit inside the Temelin nuclear station compound Tuesday afternoon, and was quickly put out by the station's staff, a spokesman said Wednesday.

The incident posed no danger to the plant's operation and safety, Temelin spokesman Marek Svitak said.

The fire was caused by the overheating of the components in an air-drying station about 1 kilometer (700 yards) outside the actual reactor building, Svitak said.

The plant has been a source of friction between the Czech Republic and neighboring Austria for decades.

Austrian activists repeatedly have blocked border crossings with the Czech Republic, demanding the Austrian government take legal action against the Czechs for operating the plant about 60 kilometers (35 miles) from the border.

Construction of the plant's two 1,000-megawatt units, based on Russian designs, started in the 1980s. The reactors were later upgraded with U.S. technology, but they have remained controversial because of frequent malfunctions.

Czech authorities insist the plant is safe.

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