The lockdown on a nuclear site in the United States was lifted after the law enforcement agencies realized it was a false alarm.
The incident happened around 3:30 pm, local time, in a facility that is part of DoE’s nuclear arm. The facility’s purpose is to dissolve, purify and blend highly enriched uranium. The low enriched uranium that results from this process is sent to commercial reactors for use.
A delivery truck that services vending machines was stopped and investigated after a bomb-sniffing dog over-reacted and caused widespread panic. The electronic scans also indicated the possible presence of explosive residue in the truck. The event triggered an emergency response. Still, the Savannah River Site announced that there was no sign of any explosive residue or device in the delivery truck.
Given the event, the facility was put in lockdown and the personnel were asked to stay in their offices or labs because of what was believed to be a “potential security event”. The site barricades were closed to keep out incoming traffic.
About one and a half hours after the site was closed, the public was informed about the canine’s reaction and the electronic scans indicating that there might be a safety issue. The officials sent a news release explaining the situation and announcing that there were no safety concerns outside the area.
The law enforcement agencies of Georgia and North Carolina soon arrived on site to investigate the security issue. After analyzing the truck they realized that there was no sign of explosives and it was all just a false alarm.
More than two hours after the security alert was sent, around 5:52 pm, the plant was declared all-clear and the lockdown was lifted.
The Savannah River Site, located near the Georgia state line, is a former bomb-making facility that still works with nuclear materials. It is a nuclear plant run by the government and built in the 95’s. Between 1953 and 1988 the facility produced one third of the weapons in the United States.
This plant used to make materials for nuclear weapons, but after the five reactors have been deactivated it is used to process enriched uranium for commercial reactors. Two of the reactors are used to store nuclear material, given the fact that other nuclear sites have been closed down in recent decades. The facility is currently run by the Department of Energy.
Photo credits: Chronicle.augusta.com