Scientists Allege Poor Nuclear Security: A Report Alleges That Concerns Raised by Security Officers at a Nuclear Plant Have Been Ignored. but Guard Companies Contend That These Issues Have Been Addressed

Article excerpt

IN BATTLEFIELDS as diverse as high rises and nuclear plants, contract security companies and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) have been warring over who can better protect U.S. infrastructure. The SEIU says that guard companies ignore officer warnings about poor security procedures and officer treatment, putting the nation's security at high risk. The guard companies reply that most of the complaints are issued by a few disgruntled workers and are unfounded, and that the SEIU is involved in a self-serving effort to expand its ranks.

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One of the latest skirmishes is at the South Texas Project, a nuclear plant in Wadsworth, Texas, that contracts security to Wackenhut. In that case, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) issued a report alleging that security officers at the plant have expressed numerous concerns about security but have either been ignored or retaliated against. Wackenhut says that the SEIU is largely behind this report. The UCS says that the report reflects its own views, though it acknowledges that "it consulted with SEIU" for its experience with these issues.

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Among the allegations was the charge that mock intruders have been ordered to lose during force-on-force exercises at the plant--so plant management would look good in front of visitors--and that the training provided for vehicle checks is woefully inadequate.

The president of Wackenhut's Nuclear Service Division, Richard Michau, CPP, says that these allegations have been looked into and, where valid, they have been addressed. But, he says, many deal with human resources rather than security matters or are outright false. An example of the latter, he says, is the mock invader force being directed by management to lose.

Other complaints, Michau says, arise from the guards' lack of knowledge of the full security scheme at the plant. One assertion is that fog often renders perimeter CCTV useless. Michau says that all nuclear plants are required to have compensatory measures for fog--such as use of other technology or manpower--and that that's the case at the South Texas Project. …

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