Friday, March 20, 2009

Qualified Workers Threatening Safety of Reactor Host Community

A ever worsening worker shortage in the American Nuclear Industry sees the NRC willingly putting host communities at HIGH RISK to Human Error Accidents in the name of Reactor Owner profits. On an almost daily basis all across the nation episodes of sleeping Control Room staff, exhausted guards, and overly worked Maintenance and Inspection crews are being swept under the carpet as the NRC attempts to hide this troubling reality from Host Communities.

Imagine workers at these CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE locations, because of worker shortages putting in 60-70 hours week in and week out as their exhaustion builds, as their mental crispness WANES. The average American worker puts in just under 2100 hours a year, while the NRC and its licensees expect over worked and under paid staff to put in (on average)almost 3700 hours on a yearly basis. Tired minds make mistakes...human error caused the Reactor Melt Downs at Chernobyl and Three Mile Island here in America.

Ask yourself host communities...can you afford the risks the nuclear industry is exposing you to in OVER WORKING their staffs because of greed? Has the time come to demand work weeks for all employees at Nuclear Facilities (including guard staff) to not work more than a 48 hour week (notice this still allows Nuclear Reactor sites to have employees working reasonable over time hours. Not only would such a NRC Rule Change be good from a SAFETY PERSPECTIVE, but it would add on average 700 new employees at most reactor sites, which in turn will BOOST Host Community economies and tax bases.

Amid nuclear worker shortage, FPL says it's following rules

Five times since 2000, operators of U.S. nuclear power plants have been found slumped over their controls asleep, according to federal documents.

The suspected reason each time: exhaustion from long stretches of overtime. The problem is that there's a shortage of nuclear operators -- in Florida and across the country. A lawsuit filed recently by 20 nuclear operators at Turkey Point complained that on average most of them work ''60 to 70 hours or more'' a week.

In the first six weeks of of 2008, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission found that Florida Power & Light's nuclear plants had 21 overtime ''deviations'' in which 17 plant operators had worked more than 72 hours a week, the maximum now allowed. Two of those workers were involved in a spill of 200 gallons of boric acid used to control the nuclear reaction in the core, but there was no indication from the NRC on whether fatigue could have caused the error.

FPL says it complies with all federal requirements concerning overtime and is working hard to develop more nuclear operators. ''At each of our nuclear sites, FPL carefully tracks the hours worked by our operators to ensure compliance with NRC work hour requirements,'' says FPL spokesman Tom Veenstra.

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