Agency missed sleeping guards
Friday at Peach Bottom, NRC reflected on the mistake and pointed to changes.

Daily Record/Sunday News
02/09/2008 05:08:39 PM EST

Dale E. Kline doesn't make excuses for how the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission responded to security guards who were recently videotaped sleeping on the job at the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station.

"The NRC missed it and the plant missed it," said Klein, chairman of the commission. "We need to learn from that."

Friday, Klein, Sen. Thomas R. Carper, D-Del., and U.S. Rep. Todd Platts, R-York County, toured the power station in an effort to become more familiar with the operation of the plant and its security force.

Last fall, the power station terminated its contract with Wackenhut Corp. after CBS News aired video footage, recorded between March and August, that showed guards sleeping in the plant's ready room, an area where officers are allowed to relax but must remain ready to respond to emergencies.

In November, the plant's in-house force, Exelon Nuclear Security, took over management of the power station's security program.

"(The guards) no longer work for Wackenhut," Carper said. "They work for Exelon. And they are not treated as second-class citizens. I don't want to suggest too strongly that they were (treated as second-class citizens), but I believe that they were. They are now part of the team and they have responsibility to the rest of the team."

While Klein did point out material changes at the plant such as cameras in the ready room and periodic shift rotations that promise to address guard inattentiveness, he said the NRC plans to improve its inspection process.

In March, John Jasinski, a former head of Wackenhut security at the power station, drafted a letter to the NRC that described how guards had witnessed other officers sleeping inside the plant's bullet-resistant enclosures, or guard towers, and other areas at the plant.

The NRC investigated the assertion at Peach Bottom, but "neither we nor the plant managers found evidence of the problem alleged," Klein said.

"From the NRC perspective, this is an example of how you can follow all the right steps and obey all the appropriate procedures, and still not reach the right outcome," he said.

Platts said the NRC and Exelon were not thorough enough with their investigations and might have discovered the sleeping guards if their reviews had been more in-depth.

"The NRC and the company both accept that as a valid critique," he said. "It could have been handled differently."

Klein said the NRC is finalizing an internal assessment of its response that includes recommendations to improve the commission's allegation, inspection and investigation process.

"We are committed to doing everything we can to fulfill our responsibilities to the American people for ensuring the safety and security of nuclear facilities and materials," he said.; 771-2047


A former supervisor at Peach Bottom nuclear plant says he disciplined a guard based on performance -- not because that guard videotaped other guards sleeping on the job.

An exclusive story in the York Sunday News gives you the latest on the Peach Bottom security controversy.


Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station's Unit 3 reactor came back online at 3:30 p.m. Thursday after workers had replaced a safety relief valve that had malfunctioned earlier this week.

Peach Bottom's Unit 2 reactor continued to operate at full power without interruption during the Unit 3 shutdown.


Dale E. Klein, chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, will discuss nuclear plant safety and security, including the agency's response to the guards who were videotaped sleeping at Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, at the U.S. Senate on Environment & Public Work's Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee on Feb. 28.

Source: York Daily Record