Man arrested after crashing vehicle at Tennessee nuclear facility

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 22, 2015 4:53 PM

By Tim Ghianni

(Reuters) - A man drove his vehicle through a security entrance at a U.S. defense site in Tennessee on Thursday where enriched uranium is processed and stored, then crashed and fled on foot on the facility's grounds before being arrested, authorities said.

The expansive Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, was locked down after the incident just before 6 a.m., plant spokesman Steven Wyatt said.

The facility reopened after the man was captured nearly two hours later by security officers and taken into custody by Oak Ridge police, officials said.

"There was no risk to nuclear operations as a result of the incident at Y-12," Wyatt said.

Timothy Preston, 34, of Clinton, Tennessee, was charged with aggravated trespassing, trespassing by motor vehicle, felony vandalism and driving with a revoked license for the third time, Oak Ridge police said in a statement.

Preston, who crashed his vehicle near a parking lot, was treated for minor injuries at a local hospital and then taken to the Anderson County Detention Center where he was charged, the statement said. Other charges are possible, it said.

The facility at Oak Ridge was built in the 1940s for the Manhattan Project that developed the first atomic bombs during World War Two. The facility also retrieves and stores nuclear materials and fuels U.S. Navy reactors.

In July 2012, an elderly nun and two other peace activists cut through fences and traversed the Oak Ridge grounds to spray paint peace signs on a building and hang banners.

All three were convicted of sabotage and injury to government property in the break-in that embarrassed U.S. officials and prompted security changes. A U.S. appeals court reversed the sabotage convictions and they were released in May.

(Reporting by Tim Ghianni in Nashville, Tennessee; Writing by David Bailey; Editing by Eric Beech)