August 29, 2006 - MARKEY: WACKENHUT SECURITY AT PILGRIM NUCLEAR POWER PLANT IS FIRED, BUT ENTERGY AND NRC NEED SECURITY PLAN THAT IS UP TO POST 9/11 TERROR THREAT

MEDFORD, MASS-- Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA, a senior member of the House Homeland Security and Energy and Commerce Committees, released the following statement in reaction to Entergy ending the contract for Wackenhut to provide security at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Massachusetts:

 

"Using Wackenhut as nuclear reactor security guards poses a grave conflict-of-interest, since the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has allowed the nuclear industry lobbying group to use the company's guards as the 'mock terrorist team' in force-on-force exercises.  The constant reports that Wackenhut cuts corners on these exercises, retaliates against whistleblowers and inadequately trains its security guards leaves many reactors insecure and unprepared.
“While I am pleased that Entergy has decided that it will no longer use Wackenhut at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant, I remain deeply concerned that Entergy and other nuclear reactor licensees continue to use it at other nuclear reactors across the country. Al Qaeda would like nothing more than to carry out an attack on a nuclear power plant near a heavily populated area, and it is the job of the NRC and Entergy to ensure that the new security force and plan is up to that responsibility.  As the Bush Administration works hand in glove with the nuclear industry, the SEIU's monitoring of security at nuclear power plants is an essential public service."

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 23, 2006

CONTACT: Israel Klein
202.812.8193

 Below is the release put out today by the Service Employees International Union: 

SEIU: Wackenhut to be Dropped as Security Contractor at Pilgrim Nuclear Plant

Faulty Security Performance, Use of Excessive Overtime, Inadequate Ability to Train, Retain Staff at issue
WASHINGTON, Aug. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Wackenhut Corporation will likely lose its security contract at the Pilgrim nuclear power plant, estimated to be worth $5 million a year, as the Entergy Corporation recently announced plans to take over the Plymouth, Massachusetts plant's security operations after public and government criticism of Wackenhut's performance. The Pilgrim plant was the subject of a special investigation by Time magazine last summer which reported multiple security problems. Entergy cancelled Wackenhut's contract at the Indian Point nuclear power plant near New York City in 2003 after an internal investigation uncovered numerous security problems. Wackenhut, a wholly-owned subsidiary of London-based Group 4 Securicor, receives an estimated 12% of its total revenue from the nuclear power industry where it is the largest security contractor.
Entergy announced plans to drop Wackenhut at Pilgrim in the midst of a labor dispute with more than 100 security officers represented by United Government Security Officers of America (UGSOA). Pilgrim guards have been working for more than 6 months without a contract, and had unanimously authorized a strike vote as Wackenhut sought to remove a provision that guarantees that officers receive at least two days in a row off work each week. Security officers at Pilgrim worked "thousands of hours of overtime last year," according to a UGSOA official who added, "Wackenhut is trying to trim the time-off allowed for guards who are already working more overtime than ever." Pilgrim security officers expressed concern over Wackenhut's plan to require workers taking bereavement leave to show proof that they actually attended a funeral. Excessive overtime has been linked to inadequate preparedness and performance of security forces.
According to an Entergy spokesman, dropping Wackenhut and taking the work in-house, will "reduce turnover, improve morale, and hopefully be in the best interests of both the company and the employees." He added that the move would make the job more attractive and encourage more long-term employment by offering Entergy's benefits, such as a pension.
"By dropping Wackenhut, Entergy shows that raising standards for security officers is a matter of necessity in a post-9/11 world," said Stephen Lerner, Director of Property Services of Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the nation's largest security officers' union. "No matter how much money is spent on fences and weapons by companies like Entergy, Wackenhut's low-road approach and disrespect for its officers undermines security at our nation's most sensitive sites."
Faulty Security Performance
Last year Time magazine reported allegations by Kathy Davidson, who said Wackenhut fired her as the chief guard trainer at Pilgrim for complaining about poor security at the plant. Davidson alleged that mock attackers succeeded in 28 of 29 drills designed to show how well the guards could defend the plant from terrorist attacks. "Security at the plant is pathetic," she told Time.
Wackenhut guards nearly half the nation's commercial nuclear power plants and many highly sensitive nuclear weapons sites where there have been numerous security problems. News of Entergy's plans to remove Wackenhut at Pilgrim directly follows reports that the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) proposed to fine Florida Power & Light (FP&L) for a violation of security requirements at Wackenhut-guarded Seabrook Station nuclear power plant in New Hampshire, marking the fourth NRC investigation into security performance at Wackenhut-guarded nuclear plants this year.
Inadequate Ability to Train, Retain Staff
Entergy's announcement drew reaction from the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) whose reports on Wackenhut document a "failure to train employees adequately and the practice of keeping them on duty for long shifts." "They have some terrible problems," POGO's Peter Stockton said of Wackenhut in an interview with the Boston Globe.
Wackenhut's wholly owned subsidiary, Wackenhut Services, Inc. is facing an investigation concerning falsification of training records at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge Reservation, according to the DOE Inspector General. A conviction or civil judgment for falsification of training records may be ground for suspension or debarment of contracts under the U.S. government's federal acquisitions regulations.
Second Entergy Nuclear Plant to Drop Wackenhut
Entergy cancelled Wackenhut's contract at Indian Point #2 nuclear facility, 35 miles north of New York City, and took security back in-house in 2003 after conducting an internal investigation into Wackenhut's performance. The findings of Entergy's internal investigation of Wackenhut were leaked to the public; it found:

     * Only one in five Wackenhut security officers felt prepared to defend the  
       plant.  
     * Wackenhut presented false information to plant management who was  
       conducting a government-ordered investigation into whether employees  
       could freely report safety concerns.  
     * Employee allegations that Wackenhut created a "chilled environment"  
       around the company's administration, personnel, discipline, and general  
       program management. Of those who raised issues to management, only 42%  
       stated that those issues were adequately addressed and 12% believed that  
       Wackenhut retaliated against security officers for raising concerns or  
       making suggestions.  
     * Substantiated claims of sexual harassment "brought little apparent  
       disciplinary action and certainly did not result in termination."  
       Officers reported that Wackenhut managers ordered them to write their  
       concerns on plain white sheets of paper instead of official Information  
       Reports, a method, Entergy reported, that "can lead to the loss of  
       concerns/complaints and could also be easily abused." When the Entergy  
       investigator sought to review the investigations and discipline records  
       relating to sexual harassment complaints, the Wackenhut manager told him  
       he does not maintain a central log, and that the materials could not be  
       located.  
     * Physical agility training was "extremely lax."  
     * Guards were allowed to take their weapons qualifying exams multiple  
       times so they could pass.  
     * Security officer attrition was nearly 20%, compared to approximately 1%  
       at the adjacent Indian Point #3 plant, where security was performed by  
       in-house employees.  

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