A worker at Virginia Electric & Power Co.'s Surry nuclear power station has reported that he and a co-worker tried to sabotage fuel supplies at the plant to force plant operators to tighten its safety and security operations, according to an article in a Newport News newspaper.

The article, published Sunday by the Newport News Daily Press, reported that the worker had told the newspaper - and an FBI agent - that he and a plant worker from Hampton poured sodium hydroxide on new fuel elements being stored for use in one of Surry's reactors.

Neither Vepco nor the FBI would comment on the report yesterday. The utility firm referred all questions to the FBI's office in Richmond, which has been investigating the alleged sabotage since its discovery last month.

An FBI agent said an official response to the newspaper report would be issued today.

The worker, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, was quoted in the Newport News article as saying he deliberately poured the caustic substance into the fuel elements on April 27 after Vepco refused to respond to worker complaints about safety problems.

"I am not against nuclear power - I still believe in it - but if you're going to deal with these systems, you've got to do it as responsibly as possible," the worker said.

The fuel rods, worth about $30 million, had to be cleaned but suffered no permanent damage, according to Vepco. Both workers have had their security badges revoked and are on indefinite suspension, the newspaper reported.