LAS VEGAS — An Energy Department spokesman confirmed Wednesday that a secret elite nuclear search team was dispatched to a Reno hotel in 1981 to check out extortion threats against the resort.
A contingent of 42 members of the Nuclear Emergency Search Team was dispersed to Harrah's Hotel and Casino after threats were made to detonate explosives which would unleash plutonium through the hotel's air ducts.
A spokesman said the Las Vegas-based NEST members went to Reno on Jan. 9, 1981, and returned the next day when a search of the resort failed to turn up any explosives or plutonium.
NEST is made up of several hundred scientists, engineers and others involved in the nation's nuclear testing program. Team members are trained to respond to nuclear threats, primarily from terrorists or extortionists.