Hunters force lock-down at Texas nuclear arms plant

HOUSTON Fri Jan 15, 2010 12:52pm EST

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HOUSTON (Reuters) - A pair of duck hunters prompted a lock-down at a Texas nuclear weapons plant on Friday but there was no security threat, officials said.

Officials at the Pantex Plant near Amarillo, which maintains the safety, security and reliability of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, ordered a lock-down at about 8 a.m. CST (9 a.m. EST), plant officials said in a statement.

The plant is operated by Babcock and Wilcox for the U.S. Department of Energy, which oversees the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile.

Its nuclear stockpile was in no danger and the lock-down was purely precautionary, a state safety official said.

"There was not a threat to the Pantex plant assets, workers, or the public, and the plant is now returning to normal operations," the company said in a statement.

According to Carson County Sheriff Tam Terry, the plant was locked down because armed hunters were spotted on property adjacent to it.

"Somebody saw some armed individuals dressed in camouflage clothing exiting the vicinity of the plant," said Terry.

Sheriffs found a pair of hunters setting out duck decoys and building a blind on property near the plant, Terry said.

"They were very cooperative and compliant," Terry said. "We identified them. We checked their criminal history."

(Additional reporting by Bruce Nichols; Editing by John O'Callaghan)

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