Friday, November 2, 2007
The Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station in Arizona is currently locked down while security teams are doing a sweep of the area after a pipe bomb was found this morning.
Arizona Public Service Company (APS) spokesman Jim MacDonald said a contract worker was stopped at the main gate of the facility for a routine security sweep and a suspicious looking device was reportedly found in the bed of the worker’s pickup truck. APS owns the station, which is located in Wintersberg, Arizona.
According to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO), the suspicious looking device was a pipe bomb.
“MCSO bomb squad tests later determined that the capped pipe was a credible explosive device,” said APS in a written statement.
The worker was taken into custody, and the entrance to the plant was immediately closed. The suspect, only described as a white male, lives in a Phoenix apartment complex, is reportedly an engineer who works with computers, and is cooperating with police.
Three schools in the Saddle Mountain Unified School District were locked down voluntarily, affecting about 1,500 students.
According to Fox News, the Department of Homeland Security‘s operations center was monitoring the incident.
MacDonald said the plant nor the public are at risk, “We have a large and well-trained security force that followed the procedures exactly the way they’re supposed to.” The incident, which was classified as an “unusual event” — the lowest emergency classification, is not believed to be terrorist related.
The FBI and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department are investigating.
The Palo Verde plant is about 35 miles west of Phoenix and is the largest nuclear electric generating site in the country, producing as much electricity as nine Hoover Dams.