NRC Indicates Security Problem At Three Mile Island In Letter

March 26, 2008
WGAL News, Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Inspectors spotted a security problem at Three Mile Island during a recent inspection, according to a Nuclear Regulatory Commission report released on Wednesday, but officials are only offering vague descriptions of just what the issue was.

Diane Screnci of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the agency examined the issue as part of a routine security inspection of Unit 1 that was completed last month.

A preliminary report characterized the problem as being of moderate to serious significance. Screnci said she couldn't provide any details because federal rules prohibit the disclosure of nuclear plant security deficiencies.

In a letter sent to the plant operator by the NRC, it states, "a finding was identified which was preliminarily determined to be greater than very low safety significance."

The letter goes on to say that the "deficiency was promptly corrected or compensated for and the plant was in compliance with applicable physical protection and security requirements."

The letter also stated that the problem did not involve "inattentive security officers," which has been a problem at the plant before.

Longtime nuclear activist Eric Epstein said the vague notification of a security problem is not good enough.

"To say it's not people sleeping on the job is not very reassuring. What we need to know is, 'Is this a personnel issue? Does this have something to do with the new security force you hired? Does this have something to do with the bridges (that) aren't guarded?' Give us a general idea of what the problem is because this company hasn't earned the trust of the community. They can't simply say, 'Just trust us.' They have to do better than that," Epstein said.

TMI spokesman Ralph Desantis told News 8 that public safety was not compromised because of the incident.

Exelon's Troubles

Three Mile Island is owned by the Exelon Corporation, which recently ran into trouble when video surfaced of sleeping guards at its Peach Bottom Nuclear plant in York County. After the video surfaced, Exelon ended its relationship with the Wackenhut security company and installed an in-house security force.

In the wake of the incident, NRC officials chided the company and NRC Chairman Dale Klein said at a public meeting, "We will be watching."

You can read the complete letter the NRC sent to the plant operator, which is being given a chance to respond to the issue in a closed door meeting. If you'd like to read the letter, click here. Please note that the link connects to a PDF file. If you cannot view it, you may need to download Adobe Reader. For a free version of Adobe, click here.

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