Thursday, April 10, 2008

NRC to give fatigued nuclear workers some relief

Almost 10 years after watchdogs and lawmakers complained about excessive overtime and low staffing levels at the nation's nuclear plants, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved a new set of rules designed to make plants safer by staving off employee fatigue. For some workers who staff the two reactor control rooms at Florida Power & Light Co.'s St. Lucie Nuclear Plant on Hutchinson Island, the standards can't take effect quickly enough. It's not uncommon for licensed reactor operators, who make sure the nuclear reactors are operating correctly 24 hours a day, to work more than 1,000 overtime hours a year, according to operators at the plant. Much of the overtime is forced because staffing of licensed reactor operators has reached "critically low" levels, according to one veteran operator who asked not to be identified because he feared putting his job at risk.
Palm Beach Post

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