Security officials at the nation's largest nuclear-power plant detained a contract worker with a small pipe bomb in the back of his pickup...
WINTERSBURG, Ariz. — Security officials at the nation’s largest nuclear-power plant detained a contract worker with a small pipe bomb in the back of his pickup Friday, authorities said.
The Department of Homeland Security said there was no known terrorism link to the incident at Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station west of Phoenix.
The worker, Roger William Hurd, told investigators he didn’t know how the bomb got in his truck and was released Friday afternoon.
Palo Verde officials said they pulled Hurd’s security clearances and won’t allow him back until they know more about what happened.
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“He won’t just drive up to work again like nothing had happened,” plant spokesman Jim McDonald said. “We’re going to have to look at the investigation. We’re not making any assumptions.”
Hurd, 61, was stopped and detained at the entrance of the nuclear-generating plant, about a half-mile from the containment domes where the plant’s nuclear material is stored, McDonald said. Security officials then put the nuclear station on lockdown for a few hours, prohibiting anyone from entering or leaving the facility until Friday afternoon.
Authorities described the device as a 6-inch capped explosive made of galvanized pipe that contained suspicious residue. Tom Mangan, a spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said it was likely homemade.
“If this thing went off in the bed of the truck, it certainly would put a hole in it,” Mangan said. “It was rather crude in construction, but it could certainly injure somebody.”
Capt. Paul Chagolla with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office said the pipe was not hidden. He said Hurd normally drove a motorcycle to work but was in a truck Friday because of the cool weather.
Sheriff’s officials rendered the device safe.
Hurd later told investigators the bomb wasn’t his, and he had no idea where it came from, Sheriff Joe Arpaio said.
“So, the mystery is, how did that pipe bomb get into his truck?” Arpaio said. “What’s the motive to someone to put this in his truck? I don’t know. Was it a disgruntled employee? I don’t know. Were they trying to target him?”
Arpaio said investigators searched Hurd’s home but found nothing that was helpful. Hurd wasn’t arrested, and Arpaio said he expects Hurd to help with the investigation.
Palo Verde, operated by Arizona Public Service Co., is the nation’s largest nuclear-power plant both in size and capacity. Located in Wintersburg, about 50 miles west of downtown Phoenix, the plant supplies electricity to about 4 million customers in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and California.