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Cutting torches spark small fire at Zion nuke plant

Updated: March 17, 2013 6:19PM

ZION — Cutting torches caused a small fire inside the nuclear power plant Thursday, but officials said there was no radiation involved and no injuries.

Zion Fire and Rescue Department Battalion Chief Eric Troy said plant personnel from Zion Solutions, the company dismantling the facility, reported at 11:21 a.m. that there was smoke on several floors inside the plant. While the initial fire companies went to look for the source, the alarm was upgraded to bring in more personnel from surrounding departments.

Firefighters discovered that torch work ignited residual oil in the vicinity of the work and the fire had been mostly extinguished by plant personnel with fire extinguishers kept on site. Fire crews double-checked to make sure the fire was out, Troy said.

Troy said the fire gave off significant smoke that made it appear bigger than it was and that was why the alarm was upgraded so firefighters would have enough personnel and equipment if it indeed there was a large fire inside the structure.

“At no time was the general public in danger,” he stressed. There was no damage from the fire.

He also said the blaze did not involve any radioactive material. This year, the plant has started moving low-level radioactive material by rail from the site to an authorized dump site out of state. Zion Solutions was unavailable for comment.

Beach Park, Gurnee, Newport, Pleasant Prairie, Wis., and Winthrop Harbor fire departments responded to the scene and Antioch, Waukegan and North Chicago covered Zion’s fire stations during the call.

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