July 30, 2008

Nippon Steel Restarts Blast Furnace at Fire-Hit Plant

Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Pref., July 30 (Jiji Press)--Nippon Steel Corp. on Wednesday resumed the operations of the blast furnace at its fire-hit Yawata works in this southwestern Japan city.

The furnace was restarted at 7:26 a.m. (10:26 p.m. Tuesday GMT). Almost all operations at the base, excluding those of a coke plant, have been resumed.

The fire, which started early Tuesday morning at a belt conveyor sending coals to a coke oven, has yet to be completely extinguished. It apparently spread because the conveyor collapsed and broke a gas pipe.

The Yawata works produces some 4 million tons of steel annually, accounting for some 10 pct of the company's total output.END

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