SENECA, S.C. (AP) — A driver tried to crash through the exit gates of a South Carolina nuclear plant Thursday night about an hour after security asked the same car to leave when it tried to enter, authorities said.
A pop-up security barrier stopped the car with an Arkansas license plate at the Oconee Nuclear Station near Seneca around 8 p.m., Oconee County Sheriff’s spokesman Jimmy Watt said in a statement.
The driver backed up and tried to drive down a dirt road as Duke Energy security tried to block him in. The driver tried to hit the guards, then drove through a fence and off the nuclear plant property, Watt said.
He drove a short distance from the plant and turned down a driveway, where the homeowner fired warning shots, investigators said.
The same car showed up an hour before trying to crash through the gate, and the driver was asked to leave, deputies said.
Investigators are now looking to speak with a 66-year-old Arkansas man about the crash, calling him a person of interest.
Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw said it’s unclear whether the man has any connections to the nuclear plant or that area of South Carolina, but they are checking.
“We don’t have any evidence this is any type of domestic terrorism,” Crenshaw said at a Friday news conference.
The security officers told deputies that “something didn’t appear quite right” with the driver, Crenshaw said.
The silver 2002 Toyota Camry that tried to crash into the plant’s property was found about 19 hours later in neighboring Pickens County, but the 66-year-old man was not with it, Crenshaw said.
The car was not registered to the Arkansas man and was not reported stolen, said Crenshaw.
None of the security staff was injured, Duke Energy said.
The Oconee Nuclear Station has three nuclear reactors and started generating power 50 years ago on Lake Keowee.
The plant continues to operate safely, officials said.
“Duke Energy has comprehensive security plans and a well-trained security workforce in place. A vehicle entered an administrative gate, but was not able to access the plant due to our multiple layers of security,” Duke Energy said in statement.