From: Reuters
Published April 11, 2008 02:09 PM

Cat naps at U.S. nuclear plant may catch hefty fine

By Tom Doggett

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Thursday may fine Florida Power & Light Co $130,000 after security officers at the company's Turkey Point nuclear power plant near Miami were found sleeping on the job.

The NRC said its investigators found that on multiple occasions from 2004 through 2006 "security officers at Turkey Point were willfully inattentive to duty or served as lookouts so other officers could sleep on duty."

An NRC inspector specifically saw on April 6, 2006, a security officer sleeping on duty while posted in a vital area of the reactor, the agency said.

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In a letter to the company this week, the NRC said it "considers this matter to be a significant security concern" and sleeping security personnel "cannot be tolerated."

The company has 30 days to pay the fine or file a protest.

Dick Winn, FPL's nuclear spokesman, said the company wants to review the information the NRC has collected on the matter. He said the six security officers accused of sleeping are no longer at the plant and their actions don't reflect the professionalism of the other workers.

Winn said the company has improved the screening and testing of its security force. "We take this seriously," he said.

In January, the agency also fined FPL $208,000 for other security violations at the Turkey Point facility.

Those violations related to two events in 2004 and 2005, when security personnel disabled weapons by removing or breaking firing pins, which the NRC said would not have allowed the workers to protect the plant.

The Turkey Point power plant is located on Biscayne Bay near Homestead, about 30 miles southwest of Miami.

(Editing by Christian Wiessner)

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