NRC investigation finds security violations at Millstone

Dominion Millstone Nuclear Power Station in Waterford is seen from the air July 9, 2011.  (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Dominion Millstone Nuclear Power Station in Waterford is seen from the air July 9, 2011. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

Waterford — Dominion Energy will undertake a host of oversight and safety evaluations after an investigation revealed a former security armorer at Millstone Power Station deliberately failed to perform required weapons checks and inventories.

According to an order issued Tuesday by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the former armorer falsified records between January 2015 and June 2016 to make it appear that on-site weapons were fire-tested, cleaned and accounted for.

The NRC said the individual was a security officer from British security company G4S employed as an armorer responsible for weapons checks. But the NRC investigation, launched Aug. 31, 2016, identified discrepancies on several weapons maintenance records, leading to two security violations.

As part of the order, which followed a mediation session in September, Dominion agreed to a series of corrective actions, including a full inventory of all on-site weapons whether in or out of service. The company also must evaluate G4S training of security officers and the duties of the armorer position.

Dominion then will share the results of the corrective actions with nuclear industry groups, per the NRC order.

"We've agreed to a set of actions to ensure this doesn't recur," Dominion spokesman Kenneth Holt said in an interview. "We will complete all of them before they're required to be done and provide the NRC with all the information they need."

He said that each of the approximately dozen corrective actions laid out in the NRC's order has a completion timeframe ranging from 10 to 250 days.

Holt noted no weapons were found to be missing after an internal review. The G4S armorer has not been contracted by Millstone since the issue was identified earlier this year, Holt added.

"There was no significant impact to security at Millstone," he said.

According to the order, the unidentified armorer told the NRC "that (s)he had been unable to keep up with his/her increasing workload, which led to his/her decision to not perform required tasks and to falsify related records."

Asked whether there were security staffing concerns at Millstone, Holt said, "I'd really say these were the actions of an individual."

Still, Holt acknowledged the violations found by the NRC prompted Dominion to "evaluate our oversight of our security contract organization and provide training to ensure roles and responsibilities are understood and applicable requirements are met."

The NRC says Dominion violated two security regulations: its obligation to maintain complete and accurate information required by the commission's regulations, orders or license conditions; and the mandate to keep records of all tests, inspections and maintenance of security-related equipment for three years after such events are documented.

Monica Garcia, spokeswoman for G4S, confirmed the armorer is no longer an employee.

"G4S Regulated Security Solutions works closely with our personnel, our client Dominion and third party stakeholders like the NRC to ensure that all issues are addressed and resolved in a timely manner," Garcia said in an emailed statement.

James Foley, vice president of the United Government Security Officers of America Local 19, said the armorer who committed the violations was not a union member.

"My understanding is that there will be informational breakouts provided to all the security officers," Foley said, describing the corrective actions as "definitely steps in the right direction."

NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said the commission expects a report within 30 days following Dominion's full review of weapons inventory. The NRC then will perform inspections to confirm all the weapons are catalogued.

Even though a contractor committed the violations, Dominion "is the operating license holder of record. We hold them accountable for the actions of their contractors," Sheehan said.

Sheehan declined to comment on what prompted the investigation. He said the NRC's Office of Investigations reviews information from a variety of sources, including anonymous plant workers, regular inspections or self-identified issues arising in reviews by nuclear facilities.

In addition to providing updated weapons inventory and maintenance data to the NRC, Dominion agreed to discuss the matter within 30 days with all Millstone personnel and other Dominion Energy Inc. facilities. The communication must "specify that falsification of records is unacceptable and shall also explain the specific actions staff are expected to take when unable to fulfill NRC requirements," according to the order.

Dominion additionally agreed to retain an outside safety culture expert within the next four months, and to discuss the matter and results of the corrective actions with the Nuclear Security Working Group and the 2019 National Nuclear Security Conference.

b.kail@theday.com

READER COMMENTS

Loading comments...
Hide Comments