Six workers identified in goldfish “prank” at Perry Nuclear Power Plant

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Perry Nuclear Power Plant Ohio

On May 2nd, workers at the Perry Nuclear Power Plant were taking apart scaffolding in a steam tunnel when they discovered two goldfish in a lemonade pitcher full of radioactive water in a secured area.  For the next month, security investigators at the Perry Nuclear Power Plant spent untold hours reviewing video recordings to attempt to identify the individuals who left goldfish in a pitcher of radioactive water from one of the nuclear reactors in a steam tunnel.

The job wasn’t easy. First, the plant had been shutdown during a refueling outage since March 18th and over 1,000 outside contractors had access to the plant during that period.  Then, investigators found that in many cases the identities of the individuals where obscured by the protective radiological suits and hoods being worn in the protected areas of the plant.  “While we continue to look at the video for evidence, identifying folks in the video has been challenging,” Perry spokeswoman Jennifer Young admitted in May.

The mystery took over a month to solve but now two contract workers have admitted to sneaking 5 goldfish into the nuclear site in inside of juice box containers placed in a lunchbox before leaving them in the underground steam tunnel.  Three of the goldfish were not recovered during the investigation and are thought to have been disposed of previously.  Four additional workers admitted to investigators that they knew about what is being called a “practical joke”, but did not tell anyone.

According to Jennifer Young, the workers “avoided security measures designed to look for explosives, guns and other contraband that could actually damage the plant.”  The contract workers were hired by a company hired by FirstEnergy to check and repair insulation at the nuclear power plant.  A union official has said the workers face severe consequences and could even lose their union cards, which would prevent them from working on any union construction job.

This most recent security-related incident at the Perry facility has revealed some serious questions which should require further investigation by federal regulators.

How did contract workers who were hired to inspect and repair insulation gain access to the reactor well in order collect reactor water in a lemonade pitcher?   It seems more feasible that more non-contract employees could be found to have been involved and could have aided or given the reactor water to the contract workers, instead of assuming the temporary workers could have just gone, collected it themselves, and then made their way back to the high radiation areas they were working – which would require them to pass another checkpoint.   We can also question how effective the video surveillance of the protected areas is, if the identities of workers are obscured by their protective gear, and investigators had to rely on interviews to identify the perpetrators.

But since it has already been proven that workers can not only do things they should not be doing, in areas they should not be doing them in, and can even leave things for extended periods of times in those areas, we must consider what could have happened had the goldfish in reactor water been a part of a more sinister plot.  Any explosion which crippled the high pressure steam tubes carrying the radioactive steam from the reactor building to the turbine building would create what is known as a main steam-line break accident. This situation would have created a loss of coolant accident which could seriously challenge the ability of operators to maintain sufficient reactor water levels in the reactor for cooling.

While the utility may have closed its investigation into the goldfish fiasco, federal investigations will continue, hopefully until more of the critical security questions are resolved.

Source: The Cleveland

Source: Tribune Live

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