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.For more on plant security, click here for information from NEI's Web site. For more details on the termination, visit the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“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.