Friday, November 02, 2007

Security Incident at Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant

By now many of you have seen the panicked headlines over at the Drudge Report concerning a security incident at the Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant, the largest in the nation. The following is the official statement about the incident from Arizona Public Service, the operator of the plant:

Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station Security personnel detected a small, suspicious device in the bed of a contract employee’s truck this morning as part of the normal security screening of all vehicles entering the site. The contractor was attempting to enter the site through the Security check-point at the beginning of the normal day shift.

Although initial checks did not detect any explosive material on the small capped pipe, the contractor was denied access to the site and detained for further investigation, and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) was contacted. MCSO bomb squad tests later determined that the capped pipe was a credible explosive device.

As a prudent measure, the Palo Verde site was placed in a security lock-down, with no further traffic entering or exiting the site. The site also declared a Notification of Unusual Event, which is the lowest of four Emergency Plan event classifications.

“Our Security personnel acted cautiously and appropriately, demonstrating that our security process and procedures work as designed,” said Randy Edington, APS Executive Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer. “These actions are clearly in line with our goal of ensuring the health and safety of the public and our employees.”

While the device has been removed from the plant site by MCSO, they and the FBI will be investigating the event. Palo Verde is cooperating fully with the investigation.
For more information on safety and security at America's nuclear power plants, click here. For a fact sheet on the issue, click here.

And please, when it comes to Drudge and reports about nuclear energy, somebody has a tendency to exaggerate for effect.

UPDATE: From APS -- Lockdown terminated at 3:00 p.m. U.S. PDT.

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