Skip to main content

Exelon Terminates Wackenhut Security Contract at Peach Bottom Nuclear Power Plant

By now, I'm sure most of you have seen the news that NRC has sent a team to Exelon's Peach Bottom Nuclear Power Plant to investigate allegations that security personnel at the plant had been "inattentive" while on duty. That news followed items in the press from last week that one or more security guards had been caught on videotape sleeping on the job -- footage of which will reportedly be shown tonight on WCBS-TV in New York.

Earlier this afternoon, Exelon announced that it had completed its own internal investigation, and that it was terminating Wackenhut's contract to manage security forces at Peach Bottom Nuclear Power Plant effective immediately.

The following is the complete text from an Exelon press announcement:
Exelon Nuclear today gave Wackenhut Nuclear Security notice that it will terminate its contract to manage security forces at the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station. This follows an internal investigation in connection with Wackenhut security officers being videotaped sleeping or otherwise inattentive in a station ready room, the company announced today.

“This is not acceptable and we will not tolerate it,” said Exelon Generation Chief Operating Officer Chris Crane. “I want to be clear that nothing has happened at Peach Bottom that represents a security or safety threat to the public. We are dealing with unacceptable behavior, and we will fix it.”

While the most prominent step is removing Wackenhut at Peach Bottom, “we have taken and will take additional measures to prevent this from recurring,” Crane said.
A broad review of security management by Wackenhut is underway at all of Exelon Nuclear’s 10 operating nuclear energy sites. At Peach Bottom, employees are being informed of the decision and related changes.

“We have a high level of confidence in the vast majority of the security forces who guard our plants,” Crane said. “These are well-trained, dedicated security professionals. Our immediate concern is with how they are managed and the performance standards they are asked to meet.”

Exelon is cooperating with the NRC in the matter and has brought in outside experts to participate in the internal investigation, which began immediately after the company received its first information about the inattentive officers.

The video images of inattentive officers were taken in what is known as a “ready room,” or assembly room, a secured location within Peach Bottom where they are allowed to read, study, eat or relax but remain ready to respond to a plant location if called upon. It is used as a break room at certain times. The videos appear to have been taken two to six months ago.

The videos that Exelon officials viewed showed security officers in the assembly room nodding off or sleeping, which is not allowed at any time. The inattentive officers were sitting in chairs.

“It is important for us to emphasize again that the actions we have seen on the videotape and found in our internal inquiry did not directly impact the safety and security of the plant,” Crane said. “However, we will not accept, we will not allow, any member of our security force to be anything other than fully alert at all times on duty. This is a long-standing and well-understood principle on which we will never compromise.”

Exelon Nuclear has procedures and guidelines in place to prevent inattentiveness among its security forces, which protect nuclear stations 24 hours a day. Work hours are carefully monitored to prevent fatigue. In addition, officers are regularly rotated among stations and must check in with a supervisor regularly.

Exelon Nuclear will has begun transitioning security forces at the plant to a new Exelon-owned security subsidiary, which will manage Peach Bottom security.
For more on plant security, click here for information from NEI's Web site. For more details on the termination, visit the Philadelphia Inquirer.


Ed said…
A new Exelon-owned security subsidiary? hmmmm

Is it possible Exelon just wanted a quick out from the existing Wackenhut contract?

How did a video camera get inside the facility, tape security personnel and get back out again? Were the guards at the X-ray machines, metal detectors, turnstiles etc. asleep as well?
Anonymous said…
Oh Lord, this is all we need now! Never have been impressed with Wackenhut. Yes, there are many fine security people with Wackenhut, but I think that organization has problems.
Anonymous said…
I understand the concerns about negative publicity, but this is a case where a problem was uncovered and dealt with, correctly and decisively. That is how the system is supposed to work. You fix things you discover to be wrong and work to assure there is not a repeat incident. That is what the licensee has done and is doing. I agree it would have been better not to have happened at all, but it did, and they had to deal with it. They did so.
Ryan said…
There seems to be a measurable difference between "in-house" security employees and contract workers. In my observation, employees of a contractor usually get less pay and benefits then in-house and are treated with less respect. Perhaps the NRC should look into mandating better control from the licensee.
Pamela said…
"How did a video camera get inside the facility, tape security personnel and get back out again? "

Because video cameras and regular cameras are allowed (at least at our plant), with the proper permissions.
Anonymous said…
"How did a video camera get inside the facility, tape security personnel and get back out again?"

can you say, "cell phone"?
Anonymous said…
"but this is a case where a problem was uncovered and dealt with, correctly and decisively."

Are you kidding?

It took a whistleblower, who had been shut down when he raised his concerns months earlier through normal channels at the plant, contacting a TV reporter, who took the matter to NRC.

How is that dealing with the matter "correctly"?
Anonymous said…
The articles posted say the tape was taken by a Wackenhut employee. Based on the available information the licensee did an internal investigation, and based on that, took action. So it was dealt with correctly and decisively. Changes were made as a result of unsatisfactory performance. There was no attempt to cover up the shortfall in performance. I can see how you'd have a valid ax to grind if they did that, but they didn't. The licensee did the right thing. Why should we hammer them for doing the right thing?
Anonymous said…
No, you're way off. The Wackenhut employee did not make the videotapes as part of an internal investigation by management. He made them because his supervisors wouldn't listen to his allegations and refused to launch an investigation. That's why he had to go public.

As for the investigations, both Exelon and Wackenhut launched theirs AFTER the whistleblower went public, and they're still underway.
Anonymous said…
A video camera did not get inside the plant. The video was recorded off a cellphone with video capabilities...duh

Popular posts from this blog

Sneak Peek

There's an invisible force powering and propelling our way of life.
It's all around us. You can't feel it. Smell it. Or taste it.
But it's there all the same. And if you look close enough, you can see all the amazing and wondrous things it does.
It not only powers our cities and towns.
And all the high-tech things we love.
It gives us the power to invent.
To explore.
To discover.
To create advanced technologies.
This invisible force creates jobs out of thin air.
It adds billions to our economy.
It's on even when we're not.
And stays on no matter what Mother Nature throws at it.
This invisible force takes us to the outer reaches of outer space.
And to the very depths of our oceans.
It brings us together. And it makes us better.
And most importantly, it has the power to do all this in our lifetime while barely leaving a trace.
Some people might say it's kind of unbelievable.
They wonder, what is this new power that does all these extraordinary things?

A Design Team Pictures the Future of Nuclear Energy

For more than 100 years, the shape and location of human settlements has been defined in large part by energy and water. Cities grew up near natural resources like hydropower, and near water for agricultural, industrial and household use.

So what would the world look like with a new generation of small nuclear reactors that could provide abundant, clean energy for electricity, water pumping and desalination and industrial processes?

Hard to say with precision, but Third Way, the non-partisan think tank, asked the design team at the Washington, D.C. office of Gensler & Associates, an architecture and interior design firm that specializes in sustainable projects like a complex that houses the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. The talented designers saw a blooming desert and a cozy arctic village, an old urban mill re-purposed as an energy producer, a data center that integrates solar panels on its sprawling flat roofs, a naval base and a humming transit hub.

In the converted mill, high temperat…

Seeing the Light on Nuclear Energy

If you think that there is plenty of electricity, that the air is clean enough and that nuclear power is a just one among many options for meeting human needs, then you are probably over-focused on the United States or Western Europe. Even then, you’d be wrong.

That’s the idea at the heart of a new book, “Seeing the Light: The Case for Nuclear Power in the 21st Century,” by Scott L. Montgomery, a geoscientist and energy expert, and Thomas Graham Jr., a retired ambassador and arms control expert.

Billions of people live in energy poverty, they write, and even those who don’t, those who live in places where there is always an electric outlet or a light switch handy, we need to unmake the last 200 years of energy history, and move to non-carbon sources. Energy is integral to our lives but the authors cite a World Health Organization estimate that more than 6.5 million people die each year from air pollution.  In addition, they say, the global climate is heading for ruinous instability. E…