NRC Inspector General Releases Investigative Report in Response to POGO’s Letter on Peach Bottom Incident
Officials at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) are currently reviewing how they handle security-related allegations.
In response to an October 2007 letter from POGO, the NRC Inspector General (IG) launched an investigation into the agency's handling of allegations that security officers at the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station were sleeping while on duty. The sleeping guards incident is as a perfect example of why the NRC needs to reconsider their practice of having the licensee investigate their own management failures (an inherent conflict of interest).
The IG called the NRC's Region I actions "inconsistent;" we think "incompetent" is more like it. Region I determined that allegations of sleeping security officers made by a former Wackenhut security manager in March 2007 did not pose an immediate safety issue, but when a television news station reported on the same allegations in September 2007, and claimed to have a videotape of sleeping guards, the NRC resident inspectors began investigating the situation. The NRC could have taken the basic steps of calling the former Wackenhut security manager for more information, and providing the information to NRC resident inspectors for future monitoring and regularly scheduled inspections.
Also, the IG found that the Region I staff did not follow NRC's rules for managing allegations. For instance, they did not follow agency guidelines stating that allegations against licensee management should not be referred to the licensee. The report points out that "officers feared retaliation from Exelon management for raising safety concerns and Exelon management was aware that officers were inattentive on duty but was not taking proper actions to address the inattentiveness."
The bottom line is that the NRC is not going to learn anything about security-related incidents as long as the agency relies on licensees to investigate themselves.
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.