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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 March 2006, 14:17 GMT
Blaze at Japanese nuclear plant
The Ohi plant in Japan
Nuclear power supplies a third of Japan's energy needs
A fire has broken out at a nuclear plant in western Japan, injuring two people but causing no radiation leak, officials say.

The blaze took hold in a waste disposal facility at the Ohi power plant in Fukui, 380km (236 miles) west of Tokyo.

Two workers were taken to hospital with smoke inhalation. Officials have told the AP news agency the fire is now out.

Japan is heavily reliant on nuclear power but confidence has been hit by a series of incidents in recent years.

The Ohi plant is run by Kansai Electric Power Co (Kepco).

Although the waste disposal facility is situated between two reactors, Kepco said the generators were not affected and were operating normally.

'Thick smoke'

Kepco said the blaze appeared to have begun in an area where ash is packed into steel barrels.

Map of Japan

Some employees were evacuated after smoke filled the facility but workers in other areas were allowed to remain at their stations.

Kepco's Ikuo Muramatsu said the smoke had delayed fire-fighters getting to the blaze for two hours.

A prefectural official said the waste facility contained very low-level radioactive waste.

"There was no impact on the environment and we have verified that the employees did not come in contact with unusual radiation," Reuters news agency quoted the unnamed official as saying.

Japan has 55 nuclear reactors supplying one-third of its energy needs.

The government says it wants to build 11 more plants.

In August 2004 Kepco closed its plants temporarily after the worst-ever accident in Japan's nuclear power industry.

Steam from a broken pipe killed five workers at one plant.


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