The Project On Government Oversight is pleased to see that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has published a rule (EA-03-038) in the Federal Register, March 31, that will limit the work hours of security personnel and ensure that they remain capable of safely and competently performing their duties. The rule requires compensatory measures for limiting work hours to a collective work hour average of 48 hours per person per week during normal operations, as well as limiting work hours to an average of 60 hours per week for planned plant outages and planned security system outages.
“We salute the NRC for taking responsibility for the excessive hours and resulting fatigue of its security forces at nuclear power plants. It is critically important that those who are guarding the nation’s nuclear plants will now be fulfilling their mission to without being exhausted,” said Danielle Brian, Executive Director, POGO.
In its announcement in the Federal Register, the NRC cited its decision to upgrade its work rules, in part, to POGO’s report, “Nuclear Power Plant Security: Voices from Inside the Fences” published in September 12, 2002. Following the report's release, Congress, the General Accounting Office, and several federal agencies have undertaken reviews of POGO's findings. Media attention to the issue was also credited with bringing about this much needed reform of NRC’s work rules.
Since 2001, POGO has focused its oversight attention on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s work rules for security officers. For example, it has rebuked the NRC for gaming the system of accounting for work hours by grouping guards with other non-armed personnel to achieve an average of work hours instead of individual weekly work records. In addition, POGO has repeatedly urged the NRC to take immediate corrective actions through numerous correspondence with two successive Chairmen of the Commission, congressional testimony and meetings with individual Commissioners and staff.