Federal regulators have proposed a $65,000 fine against the owner of a Pennsylvania nuclear plant where security guards routinely napped on the job. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced the fine against Chicago-based Exelon Nuclear after completing a special investigation of the Peach Bottom plant in south-central Pennsylvania.
Multiple guards were “deliberately inattentive” on more than one occasion in a plant “ready room” that serves as a break room, and the incidents were not reported to plant supervisors, the NRC said.
The NRC announced its investigation in September 2007, after a videotape recorded earlier in the year of sleeping guards surfaced. The NRC issued a “white” finding — a low-to-moderate threat — for the incident in February based on the agency’s color-coded threat analysis.
Exelon plans to pay the fine, and its monitoring of plant security has improved since the incidents became known. Exelon ended its security contract with Wackenhut Corp. at Peach Bottom after the videotape surfaced and later replaced that company with an in-house security force at all 10 of its nuclear power plants.
At a congressional hearing in February, NRC chairman Dale Klein acknowledged that the agency should have done more to investigate a tip about the sleeping guards. “These were the traffic cops on the beat who were also asleep at the switch.”
So, outsourcing security – and the agency in charge of oversight was asleep at the switch, as well. Quite a round-up of failures that have become standard American business practices.