Nuclear Plant Guards Caught Sleeping On The Job
(CBS 3) YORK COUNTY, Pa. Major security changes are underway at an area nuclear plant following the discovery of several guards sleeping on the job.
The guards were caught on tape sleeping on duty, secretly taped by a fellow officer.
The images are all the more disturbing because their job is protecting the Peach Bottom Nuclear Plant, which is one of America's largest.
"It's outrageous that they're not ready to go," Peter Stockton said.
Stockton is with a government watchdog group.
The area where the guards were taped sleeping on different shifts and days, is called "the ready room."
The sleeping guards are supposed to be poised to spring into action immediately if there is an emergency.
"Certainly every one of these officers should have been wide awake and ready to go," said a former Peach Bottom officer who asked not to be identified. "Some of these officers should have been patrolling the facility."
The owner of Peach Bottom, Exelon Nuclear, said the sleeping is in its words, "not acceptable" and they've now terminated their contract with Wackenhut Security to protect Peach Bottom.
Exelon does maintain that, because the sleeping guards are only part of a much wider security net, there was no risk to the public.
"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," a statement from Exelon read.
Wackenhut Security, the same company providing security at Peach Bottom, also protects three other Exelon facilities: Three Mile Island outside Harrisburg, the Limerick Nuclear Plant in Montgomery County, and Oyster Creek in New Jersey.
However, while Wackenhut is being removed from Peach Bottom, Exelon said the company will continue to protect the other three nuclear facilities, pending the outcome of a security review.
"You're only as strong as your weakest link, and you don't want your weakest link to be a security guard sleeping on the job," Eric Epstein of a nuclear watchdog group.
Epstein, chairman of a community nuclear watchdog group "Three Mile Island Alert" said the sleeping guards show nuclear plant owners should stop outsourcing security to private companies and instead rely on officers trained and managed by the Federal Government.
"Clearly we're concerned about what we saw," Nuclear Regulatory Commission Administrator Sam Collins said.
After viewing the tape, the NRC now has a special five member team conducting what it calls a "special security inspection" at Peach Bottom.
"What we saw is not aligned with our expectations or Exelon's expectations and we will pursue it on that basis," Collins said.
The NRC will issue a report 30 days after its inspection.
Meanwhile, Wackenhut calls it quote "an anomaly," and said "it was a small number of security personnel that were not performing as they should have."