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News :: Media
Feds scold Indian Point over Dozing Security Guard
by The Security Guard
28 Aug 2007
BUCHANAN - Federal regulators are watching the owner of the Indian Point nuclear power plants to see how it deals with the discovery Sunday of an apparently dozing security guard there.
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A senior resident inspector with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission found the inattentive guard at 2:05 p.m. stationed at one of the Buchanan plants' interior monitoring points. The inspector had just arrived as part of a routine weekend evaluation.
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NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said yesterday that the inspector tried for almost two minutes to rouse the security guard by speaking to him.
"It was only after repeated attempts to get the guard's attention that the officer opened his eyes," Sheehan said.
The security guard was removed from his post and placed on administrative leave. Jim Steets, a spokesman for Entergy Nuclear Northeast, the plants' owner, said the guard was undergoing drug and alcohol testing. He was also being interviewed, Steets said, to determine "if any extenuating circumstances" could account for the sleeping. Ultimately, Steets said, the man could be fired.
"It's obviously unacceptable that you would have a security officer falling asleep at his post, and he'll be dealt with sternly," Steets said.
Both the NRC and Entergy said the incident did not affect Indian Point's security. The guard's post was part of the second line of security around the plants, what a visitor may encounter after passing through the front gate, parking his car and then proceeding to the plant. Steets said the guard's job was to observe the area, not check anyone in or out of the facility. He was working a standard 6 a.m.-to-6 p.m. shift and had rotated into his post "less than 15 minutes" before he was found, Steets said. The security force's overtime, he said, is limited to avoid fatigue.
"Just because you can get by him doesn't mean you can proceed past his post," Steets said, explaining that anyone doing so would have to scan a security badge, which would have to be matched with the person's palm print.
Rep. Nita Lowey, D-Harrison, who heard about the incident yesterday morning from the NRC congressional liaison, said it showed the need for a detailed investigation of Entergy's security.
"I have long suspected that Entergy is asleep at the switch in protecting the safety of the millions of people who live in the surrounding area," she said.
Susan Tolchin, chief adviser to Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano, said the incident "raises grave concerns."
"I just think Entergy needs to be called on the carpet for their oversight and management," Tolchin said. "This guy could have been sleeping all day."
In 1990, the NRC faulted the New York Power Authority, then Indian Point 3's owner, after a surprise inspection found two reactor operators on the graveyard shift with their heads back and eyes closed. Steets recalled another incident from several years ago involving a security guard who was inattentive, but, he said, it "was never established he was actually asleep."
Sheehan said any enforcement action from the NRC would depend on Entergy's actions.
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