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POGO letter to NRC Chairman Klein regarding security at the Peach Bottom nuclear power plant

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September 28, 2007

Chairman Dale E. Klein
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
11555 Rockville Pike
Rockville, MD 20852

Dear Chairman Klein:

POGO has been closely following a series of investigative reports by WCBS in New York involving videos of sleeping security officers at the Peach Bottom Nuclear Power Plant in eastern Pennsylvania . As you know, Exelon, the power plant owner, has fired Wackenhut, the security contractor at Peach Bottom.

In March 2007, a former employee at Peach Bottom sent a letter to the NRC Resident Inspector (attached) at the plant in an attempt to warn about the sleeping officers and excessive overtime, which are the focus of controversy this week. There is no indication that the NRC Resident Inspector or Region I followed up on the letter. According to the letter, current security officers at the plant were so fearful of retaliation, that they were unwilling to report their concerns. The letter describes a highly retaliatory environment and a security department culture which is geared towards "KEEPING YOUR MOUTH SHUT."

In fact, Region I has repeatedly ignored such warnings from security officers. For example, Salem and Hope Creek Nuclear Power Plant security officers contacted the Congress in 2003 about fatigue problems and lack of training after their pleas for help from Region I were ignored. POGO arranged a meeting between NRC Commissioner Edward McGaffigan and 45 security officers from Salem Hope Creek . Commissioner McGaffigan was shocked by the conditions, and immediately got the Commission to approve Orders changing the overtime rules to prevent overworking of guards and increasing training. Region I had been fully aware of these problems, and ignored them. Similar issues were raised with Region I from security officers at Beaver Valley and Indian Point nuclear power plants.

In a final act of desperation at Peach Bottom, a security officer videotaped sleeping security officers in the Ready Room, as seen on WCBS. On September 20, 2007, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued a press release announcing that it was dispatching a five-member team to Peach Bottom to conduct a special security investigation, including "specialists from the Agency's Region I office" and "NRC Resident Inspectors" who "have been monitoring the situation."

I strongly suggest that, under these circumstances, Region I and the NRC Resident Inspector should not be involved in any way in this investigation. In fact, I believe they should be the target of an NRC Inspector General investigation (IG). POGO has been in touch with the IG about this matter. 

Sincerely,

Danielle Brian
Executive Director

cc:
House Committee on Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell
House Committee on Energy Subcommittee Ranking Member Joe Barton
House Oversight and Investigations Committee Chairman Bart Stupak
House Oversight & Investigation Subcommittee Ranking Member Ed Whitfield
Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer
Committee on Environment and Public Works Committee Ranking Member James M. Inhofe
Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Jeff Bingaman
Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Ranking Member Pete V. Domenici

 

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