Bomb squad dispatched to Palo Verde after suspicious package found in Owner Controlled Area

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The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office investigated a “suspicious Walmart bag”  found at the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station Wednesday night.  The statement released by Arizona Public Service did not disclose what was in the bag to the media.

UPDATE – 

Jim McDonald, a spokesman for plant operator Arizona Public Service, said members of the bomb squad were called to investigate a Walmart bag that was found several hundred yards from the reactor’s protective zone.

McDonald said the bag was found to be full of absorbent material, such as “kitty litter”.

Jim McDonald, a spokesman for plant operator Arizona Public Service, said members of the bomb squad were called to investigate a Walmart bag that was found about 100 feet away from the reactors.

APS said that even if the bag contained something hazardous, it was not close enough to the facility to damage it.  “The Walmart bag – even if it turns out to contain something hazardous – is physically nowhere near a place that could damage the plant,” the statement said. “It is too far away.”

The triple-reactor plant 50 miles west of Phoenix is the nation’s largest nuclear power facility. Due to its location in the Arizona desert, Palo Verde is the only nuclear generating facility in the world that is not located adjacent to a large body of above-ground water. The facility evaporates water from the treated sewage of several nearby municipalities to meet its cooling needs. 20 billion US gallons (76,000,000 m³) of treated water are evaporated each year.  It is owned by APS and a consortium of western power companies.

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Security guards working for the utility are armed with semi-automatic weapons. They check identification and search vehicles entering the plant. Other security measures protect the reactors, including X-ray machines, explosive “sniffers”, and heavy guarded turnstiles that require special identification to open.

On 2 November, 2007, a pipe with gun powder residue was found in the bed of a contract worker’s pickup truck during normal screening of vehicles. It was then confirmed to contain explosives by local police. APS then initiated a seven hour security lock-down of the plant, allowing no one to enter or exit the plant. 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.”

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Power Reactor Event Number: 47688
Facility: PALO VERDE
Region: 4 State: AZ
Unit: [1] [2] [3]
RX Type: [1] CE,[2] CE,[3] CE
NRC Notified By: ALLAN BRIESE
HQ OPS Officer: CHARLES TEAL
Notification Date: 02/23/2012
Notification Time: 00:45 [ET]
Event Date: 02/22/2012
Event Time: 18:45 [MST]
Last Update Date: 02/23/2012
Emergency Class: NON EMERGENCY
10 CFR Section:
50.72(b)(2)(xi) – OFFSITE NOTIFICATION
Person (Organization):
RICK DEESE (R4DO)
Unit SCRAM Code RX CRIT Initial PWR Initial RX Mode Current PWR Current RX Mode
1 N Y 100 Power Operation 100 Power Operation
2 N Y 100 Power Operation 100 Power Operation
3 N Y 100 Power Operation 100 Power Operation
SUSPICIOUS PACKAGE DISCOVERED ON SITE”The following event description is based on information currently available. If through subsequent reviews of this event additional information is identified that is pertinent to this event or alters the information being provided at this time a follow-up notification will be made via the ENS or under the reporting requirements of 10CFR50.73″At 1852 hours, Palo Verde Unit 1 was notified of a suspicious package located in the Owner Controlled Area outside the Protected Area. Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office was contacted for assistance with a bomb disposal unit. Local media has become aware of this event and expressed interest by dispatching helicopters and television crews.”There are no safety systems impacted by the package and operations personnel are not hampered in their ability to operate safety related equipment. There is no release of radioactivity to the environment as a result of this package and it has not adversely affected the safe operation of the plant or health and safety of the public. All three Palo Verde units are being maintained stable at approximately 100% power.

“The NRC Resident Inspector has been notified.”

Palo Verde 2011 Inspection Reports

Failure of 13.8kV Splice due to Inadequate Maintenance  – Inspection Report# : 2011003 (pdf)

Failure to Complete an Immediate Operability Determination for Code System Leakage Test – Inspection Report# : 2011003 (pdf)

Failure to Follow Corrective Action Program Procedure – Inspection Report# : 2011002 (pdf)

Failure to Perform a 10 CFR Part 21 Evaluation – Inspection Report# : 2011002 (pdf)

Failure to Ensure All License Conditions Are Met for Licensed Operators – Inspection Report# : 2010005 (pdf)

Failure to Include Screening Criteria in the Boric Acid Corrosion Control Program – Inspection Report# : 2011003 (pdf)

Failure to Submit an LER for a Condition Prohibited by the Plant’s Technical Specifications – Inspection Report# : 2011003 (pdf)

Failure to Have Adequate Documentation for Verification of ASME Code Compliance – Inspection Report# : 2011003 (pdf)

Failure to Critique a Weakness during a Biennial Exercise – Inspection Report# : 2011003 (pdf)

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