Thursday, March 12, 2009

FPL's nuclear workers still asleep at the switch? Long hours, exhaustion the cause

The Miami Herald reports today that "Five times since 2000, operators of U.S. nuclear power plants have been found slumped over their controls asleep, according to federal documents."

And the reason, says the newspaper, is "exhaustion from long stretches of overtime." Citing federal documents, today's report goes on to say that:
In the first six weeks of of 2008, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission found that Florida Power & Light's nuclear plants had 21 overtime ''deviations'' in which 17 plant operators had worked more than 72 hours a week, the maximum now allowed. Two of those workers were involved in a spill of 200 gallons of boric acid used to control the nuclear reaction in the core, but there was no indication from the NRC on whether fatigue could have caused the error.
Our view: It's not like FPL doesn't make enough money to hire sufficient workforce to make sure competent, alert plant workers are manning the controls ... last year's gross profit by the FPL Group was a whopping $5.47 billion, with 4Q-08 gross profit coming in at an incredible $1.41 billion ...

Read the full Herald story online, here.

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