Palo Verde official: Illegal immigrant on property did not breach security - East Valley Tribune: Arizona

Palo Verde official: Illegal immigrant on property did not breach security

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Posted: Friday, July 15, 2011 2:52 pm | Updated: 5:11 pm, Fri Jul 15, 2011.

An APS representative of the Palo Verde nuclear plant said on Friday that "at no time" was there any breach of security at the plant when a contract construction worker, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, was arrested in an unrestricted area of the property.

Cruz Loya Alvares, 32, was arrested on suspicion of criminal trespass at a nuclear station on Wednesday after presenting a fake ID to a checkpoint worker at the plant. The checkpoint worker allowed Alvares to drive onto the property, although he was suspicious of his ID.

The worker took a picture of the ID and sent it to the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office where investigators determined the ID was fake and forged, according to Jim McDonald, a spokesman for APS, which operates the Palo Verde nuclear plant.

Alvares had been deported in 2000, according to information from Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who announced the arrest on Thursday.

Just a day before, Alvares, a contract construction worker for DBR construction in Phoenix, presented an expired Mexican driver's license to a checkpoint worker, who told him to come back with a valid government-issued ID, McDonald said.

Alvares had been working on a remodeling project inside a building in an unrestricted area on the plant property for about two weeks, according to McDonald.

Alvares now is being held in a Maricopa County jail without bond.

"There was never any threat to workers, the public or a breach of security," McDonald said. "He was on our property, not in our plant. Our procedures were followed the way they were supposed to be followed. He was working inside an area that was outside of the protected area."

The initial checkpoint on the property is to check vehicles for weapons, explosives or any other type of restricted materials. To get onto the Palo Verde plant property, one must have a government-issued ID.

"We do tours of the plant, and some retirees might come back to the plant to visit other workers," McDonald said.

Security measures and background checks for one to get inside the nuclear facility of the plant are more intense.

"To get inside a protected area, we conduct an FBI-level background check, and once visitors are inside of it, they are escorted," McDonald said. "We have an excellent security force that is very well-armed and very well-trained."

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