Authorities are searching for a man who drove through the gate of a nuclear power plant in Oconee County, South Carolina, and allegedly attempted to hit security officers at the facility on Thursday evening.
Deputies were dispatched to Oconee Nuclear Station shortly after 8p.m. after receiving reports that a man drove his silver Toyota Camry through the exit side of the facility’s gate, which faces a state highway.
The nuclear station, owned and operated by Duke Energy, is located on Lake Keowee and has three nuclear reactors. It is protected 24/7 by armed security guards, access controls, intrusion detection, and monitoring equipment. The plant is operating safely and no one was injured, according to authorities.
“A vehicle entered an administrative gate, but was not able to access the plant due to our multiple layers of security,” said Duke Energy spokesperson Mikayla Kreuzberger. “Advanced surveillance equipment and physical intrusion barriers consisting of concrete structures and razor wire surround the site.”
Security at the plant activated when the vehicle struck the pop-up barricades at the facility. The driver put the vehicle in reverse and proceeded down a dirt road, where Duke Energy security blocked the vehicle in, said the sheriff’s office. The suspect drove through a fence after attempting to hit security officers and a security truck with a guard in it, then exited the plant back onto the nearby highway.
“After driving back onto Highway 183, the driver then drove into Pickens County and pulled onto some property on Jones Mill Road, where shots were fired,” according to a statement by the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office. “At this time, the source of the shots fired in the Jones Mill Road area is unknown.”
Authorities said they are in the early stages of the investigation. They are looking for a white male suspect driving a silver 2002 Toyota Camry with an Arkansas tag of 380VDR.
The same vehicle and driver also showed up on the property of the nuclear station an hour before the incident occurred, but drove off after being asked to leave, according to the sheriff’s office.
South Carolina has four nuclear power plants and generates 50 percent of its electricity from nuclear power.