Accused arsonist hired at US nuclear plant — Employed as safety specialist — Allowed ‘unescorted access’ around site

Published: March 21st, 2014 at 4:23 pm ET
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The State, Mar. 20, 2014: The story of an accused arsonist’s employment at a South Carolina nuclear plant ended quietly when SCE&G learned more about the criminal charges and fired him. [...] The Nuclear Regulatory Commission last week cited SCE&G for not completely checking the worker’s background and allowing him “unescorted access” to the nuclear plant [...] NRC officials also banned the employee, a one-time volunteer firefighter from Mississippi, from working at a nuclear plant for the next five years. [...] In the SCE&G case, a company contractor hired the firefighter in the fall of 2010, some six months after he was accused in Mississippi of intentionally setting fire to open land. The worker, identified in NRC and court documents as Michael P. Cooley, was at the time facing arson charges in Mississippi. [...] the NRC said he failed to disclose an accurate disposition of the case and provided a false document about the case. V.C. Summer officials did not properly check that out before he was employed, the NRC said. [...] SCE&G’s program of allowing access to its plant failed to provide assurance that workers are trustworthy and do not present “the potential to commit radiological sabotage,” the NRC said an order released Monday. [...] At the Summer plant, Cooley worked as an environmental health and safety specialist [...]

Tom Clements, Sierra Club: “The biggest risk is someone who might have nefarious goals who already is inside the plant and employed there. They can either do something harmful on their own or facilitate action from the outside. Anytime you have a security problem on the inside, in my opinion, it is much more serious.”

View the NRC’s order here

Published: March 21st, 2014 at 4:23 pm ET
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