by Deb Cupples | According to the Miami Herald, a nuclear power plant in Florida closed down in 2006, because someone had drilled a hole in an important pipe. The shutdown cost Florida Power and Light about $6 million.
Now, the company wants consumers to pay for that shutdown, despite the fact that a contract employee had drilled the hole in the first place -- reportedly not accidentally. It gets worse, as The Herald reports:
"New information obtained by state regulators shows that the prime suspect in the case was a contract employee who drilled the hole because he was angry with the utility. According to a federal document, he had failed an FPL psychological test and had a criminal background that included charges of criminal mischief.
"The new material also caused one Florida regulator to question federal nuclear safety standards because another employee knew about the drilled hole and didn't come forward until after the $6 million had been spent. (Miami Herald)
Here's what Florida Public Service Commissioner Nathan Skop said about the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission:
"'A second person knew about a hole in a nuclear pipe and he didn't tell anyone? And the NRC is not concerned about that? Then frankly, they're not doing their job. This is a critical safety concern. . . . I don't sleep well at night knowing that.''' (MH)
Commissioner Skop, incidentally, is both a nuclear engineer and a lawyer (see PSC bio).
Equally interesting are some of the readers' comments, left at the Internet version of the Herald's article. Check out this one, for example:
"FPL workers are afraid to come forward about nuclear safety concerns because FPL has a history of retaliating against folks who do so. The NRC should be gravely concerned about FPL's conduct in retaliating against its workers.
"The public should be very scared about how FPL operates its nuclear plants especially when the security guards were found asleep on duty at the Turkey Point Nuclear Plant earlier this year. Thomas Saporito, President www.saporitoenergyconsultants.com"
I don't know whether the comment was actually written and submitted by Mr. Saporito, but it is an interesting comment and worth further exploration.