Monday, June 2, 2008

Palo Verde bomb case still unsolved

Elias C. Arnold
The Arizona Republic
Jun. 2, 2008 12:00 AM

After seven months, it's still a mystery how a pipe bomb made it into a contract worker's truck at Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station.

The bomb was discovered Nov. 2, triggering a lockdown and trapping employees at the plant for hours. Investigators soon ruled out the pickup's driver, but have been unable identify a suspect.

"They're basically at a standstill," said Deputy Lindsey Smith, a Maricopa County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman.

The investigation was expected to close by the end of last week.

The Sheriff's Office report, released before the investigation was completed, shows there were no fingerprints on the pipe bomb discovered in Roger W. Hurd's truck.

The investigation focused on relationships in Hurd's work group, according to the report.

One employee had been fired for sexual harassment a couple of weeks before the incident, while there had been some complaints about management and pay.

Additional investigations, including efforts to determine who purchased materials used to build the pipe bomb, were unsuccessful.

Hurd, a 61-year-old engineer, told investigators he had been riding his motorcycle to work and had not driven his truck for several days before the incident.

He said he did not know where the bomb came from.

In interviews, Hurd's co-workers told investigators they felt he wouldn't have been involved.

Deputies searched Hurd's Goodyear apartment but found nothing tying him to the explosive device.

The Sheriff's Office soon said it didn't believe Hurd was responsible for the incident and Hurd returned to work the following Monday.

Jim McDonald, an Arizona Public Service Co. spokesman, said Hurd is eligible to work at the Palo Verde plant "now and in the future."

He declined to specify whether Hurd, a Sargent & Lundy employee at the time, still works at the plant.

The plant found no need for changes in the wake of the pipe bomb, McDonald said.

It was "a textbook implementation of our procedures and plans," he said.

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