Security Guards Found Sleeping on the Job in a Nuclear Power Plant
[Rachel's Introduction: "The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's stunning failure to act on credible allegations of sleeping security guards, coupled with its unwillingness to protect the whistleblower who uncovered the problem, raises troubling questions."]
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By Katherine Ling, E&ENews PM reporter
The House Energy and Commerce Committee announced a planned review today of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's oversight efforts in the wake of reports about snoozing security guards at a Pennsylvania nuclear plant.

"The NRC's stunning failure to act on credible allegations of sleeping security guards, coupled with its unwillingness to protect the whistleblower who uncovered the problem, raises troubling questions," the committee chairman, John Dingell (D-Mich.), said in a statement.

At issue: a report to NRC by a guard at Exelon's Peach Bottom power plant last spring that his fellow guards were sleeping on the job.

Exelon said there was no evidence to support the guard's allegation, so NRC did not investigate. But the guard videotaped his sleeping colleagues and sent the tape to a New York City television station.

Exelon has since fired the company in charge of its security, Wackenhut Corp., and NRC has held several hearings on the matter. The commission also required all commercial power plants to submit a detailed review of their security operations, including actions to ensure "security guard attentiveness."

The sleeping guards got attention anew last week in a Washington Post article that detailed the incident and the handling of security at nuclear power plants (Greenwire, Jan. 4).

Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), the chairman of the House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, said increased oversight over NRC was needed since Wackenhut remains a major security contractor for the commercial nuclear industry.

The committee said it would also examine possible inadequacies in the relicensing of existing power plants and licensing decisions at reprocessing facilities.

Scott Burnell, an NRC spokesman, said the commission would cooperate with the committee.