- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 15, 2005

Three illegal aliens were arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents this week when they reported for work as outside contractors at a secure area of a Nebraska nuclear power station.

ICE spokesman Dean Boyd yesterday said the men, all Mexican nationals, had been hired by an independent contractor to perform maintenance work at the Omaha Public Power District’s Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station.

As they attempted to enter a secure area of the plant, Mr. Boyd said, the men presented identification documents that raised the suspicions of Omaha Public Power District employees. They, in turn, contacted ICE agents for assistance. The men were arrested after agents determined they were in the United States illegally.

Mr. Boyd said all three have been placed in immigration removal proceedings, adding that the arrests occurred Tuesday but were made public yesterday. He said ICE is investigating the circumstances under which the private contractor hired the aliens, but that the agency determined the men were not engaged in terrorist activity.

“America’s security depends on controlling access to sensitive facilities like nuclear power plants,” said ICE Agent Michael Ward, who heads the agency’s Omaha office. “ICE works closely with these industries across the nation to identify vulnerabilities that pose a potential security threat, then we aggressively act to remove that threat.

“In this case, the system worked exactly the way it was supposed to because the nuclear plant detected the illegal aliens before they could enter.”

The arrests were the latest in a series of ICE apprehensions of illegal aliens performing contract work at nuclear plants and other nuclear-related facilities.

In March, agents arrested an illegal alien who was performing contract pipe insulation work at the Duane Arnold Energy Center Nuclear Power Plant in Palo, Iowa. A federal grand jury later indicted him on charges of using and possessing fraudulent documents, as well as making false statements to federal agents.

During a two-week period in March, ICE agents arrested six illegal aliens doing contract maintenance work at the Crystal River Nuclear Power Plant in Citrus, Fla. One of the illegal aliens was indicted on criminal charges of re-entering the country after deportation, while the others have been placed in immigration removal proceedings.

In November, ICE agents arrested 44 illegal aliens at the Marley Cooling Technologies factory in Olathe, Kan., where cooling towers for nuclear plants are manufactured. The aliens used fraudulent documents and made false statements to gain employment.

Mr. Boyd said the ongoing arrests are part of “Operation Glow Worm,” a joint law-enforcement initiative begun by ICE and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission after the September 11 attacks to screen workers at the nation’s 104 nuclear power plants.

Numerous unauthorized workers have been arrested and warning notices issued to those employing unauthorized workers, he said.

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