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Nuke plant faulted for using janitors as guards

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Nuke plant faulted for using janitors as guards
12:46 CET+01:00
A decision by management of Sweden's Oskarshamn nuclear power plant to have custodial workers stand in as guards has drawn a sharp rebuke from the country's nuclear regulatory authority.

For a week in early October, members of a contract cleaning crew stood guard along sections of the plant's perimeter fencing during repairs to the plant's alarm system.

Sweden's Radiation Safety Authority (Strålsäkerhetsmyndigheten – SSM) criticized OKG, the plant's operators, for violating its own internal safety practices by using untrained workers to guard the facility and for failing to document the break with standard operation procedures.

"OKG's decision to use non-security-trained personnel violates the company's internal procedures. It is particularly serious since the routine deviation has been going on for a long time," the agency said in its report.

SSM added that the incident "could be a sign of inadequate safety culture with respect to the attitude toward physical protection” of the facility.

“The most serious aspect is that they made a decision for which no documentation can be found. And that they chose to break with internal procedures in this undocumented decision doesn't make it any better,” said Stig Isaksson, an official from SSM's division for control and inspection, to the TT news agency.

“Decisions on security measures must be documented so that one can find out what has been decided and on what grounds.”

In its report, SSM suggests a number of measures to help OKG correct the problems. Specifically, the investigation calls on the agency to keep a close eye on the company to ensure it maintains a high-quality safety culture.

The report also proposes that SSM consider clarifying what is included in the surveillance of nuclear facilities.

“We certainly accept the agency's criticism and believe that our management of the operation can be improved,” said the head of the Oskarshamn plant, Ken Sterman, in a statement.

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