Thursday, February 28, 2008

Peach Bottom Nuclear Plant: Security was the Pits

The point of this post is that people matter. Individual people. Even in a world of 6,000,000,000, and in a nation of 300,000,000, decisions made by one or two people can affect thousands, or millions.

For example: "Peach Bottom Plant Worker Fired" WJZ TV news video (November 1, 2007)

It's an inspiring sight: individuals whose job it is to guard one of America's nuclear power plants:
  • Armed
  • On duty in the ready room
  • Fast asleep
It's hard to get many details, but apparently security guards at Pennsylvania's Peach Bottom Nuclear Power Plant had made arrangements to cover for each other while they slept on the job. There's an opposing view, that the guards were forced to sleep, by having to work too much.

The guard who videotaped them snoozing has been fired. Understandably, since after he got no response going through the 'proper' channels, the tape went public.

I know that it's in a company's best interests to listen to internal reports of incompetence, and that there are whistle blower laws: But I also know that there are many managers and executives who are breathtakingly foolish.
  • Good news:
    Security at Peach Bottom didn't rely entirely on the snoozing guards
  • Bad news:
    If something had gone wrong at Peach Bottom, about 188 square miles could have become uninhabitable, and thousands of people would have died - including some in New York City and Washington, D.C.
How many people remember Chernobyl?

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There's been some attention paid to Peach Bottom since then, and it may be a while before guards hit the snooze button there. It's even possible that there will be a little more attention paid to the possibility that terrorists might decide to walk in and make a nuclear 'accident' happen.

Meanwhile, I'm profoundly grateful that for my immediate family, the nearest nuclear power plant is dozens of miles away, and, on average, downwind.

Related posts, on Individuals and the War on Terror.
A rather official view of atomic reactors and safety is online, at the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) website: "CRS Report for Congress - Nuclear Power Plant Security and Vulnerabilities" (January 18, 2008) (Order Code RL34331)

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.