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Savannah River nuclear site not in danger, says official

Aiken, S.C. -- A bomb-sniffing dog at the Savannah River nuclear site apparently over reacted when it halted a delivery truck on Monday and there does not appear to be a serious security threat there, a U.S. government official said.

The dog barked at truck that services vending machines at the site in South Carolina, said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity. The facility, which had been put on lockdown for a "potential security event" following the alarm, purifies highly enriched uranium, and is part of the Department of Energy's nuclear arm.

The lockdown has now been lifted, according to the plant's official Facebook page.

According to the official, the truck was still being checked, adding that it did not seem that there was a serious security breach.

The Savannah River Site had placed its H Area on a "phase II" security alert, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters. The H Area is where highly enriched uranium is blended down to produce low enriched uranium for use in commercial reactors.

The exact nature of the threat was unclear.

All personnel were asked to remain in their offices or labs and to "standby for further instructions via the Site public address system or instruction via email," the memo said.

The government-run site was constructed in the 1950s to produce basic materials for nuclear weapons, according to a DoE website, and produced one third of U.S. weapons grade plutonium from 1953 to 1988.

Two of the Savannah River Site's 5 reactors have been deactivated. It now blends down enriched uranium for use in commercial reactors. It also is used to store spent fuel. About 36 million gallons of radioactive liquid are stored there in 49 underground tanks.

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