Control Room Operator Was Reading Novel: NRC

By Ad Crable 

Lancaster New Era Staff


A control-room operator at the Peach Bottom nuclear plant spent 10 minutes reading a novel, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission alleges.

The violation of federal regulations came to light while the NRC was at the plant for an inspection prompted by a 2007 incident in which security guards at the plant were filmed sleeping in an off-duty room where they were allowed to rest but not sleep.

The latest incident occurred in July 2007, according to a notice of violation sent to Peach Bottom owner Exelon Generation on Thursday.


The control-room operator was seen by another Peach Bottom staffer reading the novel on a computer, according to the NRC.

Non-job-related materials are not permitted in the control room, and the use of computers is restricted to company-related work.

The NRC said it was considering the incident of "minimal safety significance" because the operator was not the primary plant operator at the time and was able to respond to plant conditions while reading the novel.

Exelon Nuclear can contest the notice of violation but must outline to the NRC how the alleged infraction was corrected.

In January, Exelon paid a $65,000 fine for the sleeping-on-the-job incident. At least 10 security guards were involved in the 2007 investigation.

A whistle-blower from Lancaster County brought the incident to light by secretly videotaping the sleeping guards.

Exelon later fired its security contractor and created its own in-house security force at both the Peach Bottom and Three Mile Island nuclear plants.