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U.S. official: Arizona nuclear plant may be target

From Jeanne Meserve
CNN Washington Bureau


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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A Bush administration official said that recent intelligence indicates that the Palo Verde nuclear power plant near Phoenix, Arizona, could be targeted by terrorists.

However, another U.S. government source said the intelligence is uncorroborated and has not been deemed credible. But officials are taking any such threat seriously, according to the source.

With events unfolding in the Iraqi crisis this week, the U.S. government raised the national terrorism threat alert level from yellow, or "elevated," to orange, or "high." Orange is the second-highest level in the nation's five-tiered, color-coded threat alert system.

Jim McDonald of the Arizona Public Service Co. said that National Guard troops were dispatched to protect the Arizona plant Tuesday afternoon. The National Guard was not deployed during two previous periods of the orange alert.

McDonald declined to comment on the intelligence information. But he said, "We do take all of this very seriously and the plant is very well-protected."

McDonald added that the company is coordinating with Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, the FBI, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Department of Homeland Security and other agencies.

A Department of Homeland Security spokesman said, "The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI have been working with state and local officials to take appropriate actions to address this threat information."

The Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station, about 50 miles west of Phoenix, has three reactors and is the largest power plant in the country, according to the Arizona Public Service Co. It has generated 30 billion kilowatt hours of electricity in each of the last three years.

It supplies power to Arizona, Southern California, Texas, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah.


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