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May 16, 2005

Nuclear Power, National Security & Labor Rights

With the supposed new enthusiasm for nuclear power among some enviros (but not a lot of them), I'm still a bit skeptical since the industry refuses to operate without the government agreeing to subsidize the costs of any meltdown.

On top of that, every nuclear power plant is a ripe target for terrorism, yet the nuclear industry has a record of hiring substandard security firms, namely Wackenhut, to provide security. Wackenhut's idea of protecting our nation is to hire low-wage, poorly-trained employees, a practice that pads their profits but endangers our security. SEIU has a whole website, Eye on Wackenhut, which details the ways the company's anti-worker policies endanger our security. Some choice bits:

Wackenhut provides security at 30 nuclear power stations in the United States...Both the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Department of Energy have uncovered problems with Wackenhut’s security practices at a number of facilities, including the Department’s headquarters office buildings, nuclear power plants and nuclear weapons and related facilities...

Wackenhut has forced security officers to work excessive hours: six and seven straight days of 12-hour shifts.

Some Wackenhut officers in the U.S. who have raised questions about security vulnerabilities in nuclear power plants have faced discipline, suspension and even termination.

Security officers must be provided with high quality training to enable them to protect our nation's most sensitive facilities. Yet it was revealed that Wackenhut cut back on training exercises recommended by U.S. Government nuclear regulatory agencies.

And this is a company that has a documented history of security abuses and fraud in performing its work, yet it's still hired by the nuclear power industry to provide security.

If this is the security standard now, imagine how bad it would get if the nuclear industry suddenly moved into "go go" expansion mode?

In theory, nuclear sounds like an attractive potential option for energy security, but in its actually existing form, the industry is too much of a basket case, preferring to hire union busting low wage outfits like Wachenhut rather than provide real security for our nation. So for now, I pass.

Posted by Nathan at May 16, 2005 08:02 AM