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Project on Government Oversight

POGO Urges NRC to Approve New Protections for Power Plant Security Officers; Long-overdue Rules Acknowledge the Role of Worker Fatigue

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March 12, 2007

The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) last week urged the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to implement a set of proposed rules that will help increase nuclear power plant safety.

In a letter to NRC Chairman Dale E. Klein, POGO stresses the need for the proposed rules changes that are designed to prevent hazardous conditions by reducing the amount of overtime nuclear plant security officers are forced to work.

The rule, which is slated for approval within the coming weeks, is a response to safety concerns stemming in part from excessive overtime and fatigue of security officers at nuclear power plants. Two of five NRC Commissioners considering the rule are reportedly on record in favor of the 10 CFR Part 26 Fitness-for-Duty Draft Final Rule.

A 2002 report issued by POGO titled Nuclear Power Plant Security: Voices from Inside the Fences detailed situations in which guards who were regularly forced to work upwards of 72 hours a week were reprimanded or fired if they complained.

Earlier responses to the issues raised in this report proved to be woefully insufficient. “POGO is pleased that the NRC has decided to revisit the continuing problem of security officers who are overworked and exhausted,” said POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian.

In February 2006, The Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Pa., reported that a shift manager at Three Mile Island nuclear plant was disciplined for falling asleep on the job. The shift manager had requested a change in his schedule because he was fatigued but had been denied that request. POGO’s letters concerning the NRC’s rulemaking have documented similar excessive fatigue problems at Beaver Valley nuclear power plant in Western Pennsylvania.

A copy of POGO’s comment letter is attached here.

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO’s investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.

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