Nuclear Regulatory Commission Asked to Look into Security Problems at N.H. Plant

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Two Massachusetts congressmen wrote a letter to federal regulators Wednesday about alleged security problems and overtime violations at New Hampshire's Seabrook nuclear plant.

Democrats Edward Markey and John Tierney asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission numerous questions about claims that an intruder detection system wasn't installed correctly and did not work, and that the plant forced security guards to work overtime to compensate.

"If these allegations are true, they represent a significant homeland security lapse at the Seabrook nuclear power plant, which the licensee appears to be compensating for by creating an overworked, overtired and consequently less effective security guard force," Markey and Tierney wrote in a letter to NRC Chairman Nils Diaz.

Calls to a plant spokesman were not immediately returned Wednesday.

A Seabrook employee brought the allegations to the attention of Markey's office, the letter says.

The letter says Markey's office was told the detection system was installed at the plant last year, but that on a recent inspection the NRC concluded it had been installed incorrectly, didn't work and probably needed to be replaced.

"In the meantime, Seabrook officials are reportedly using reactor security guard forces to compensate for the inoperable security system, and have violated NRC regulations by forcing these security guards to work excessive amounts of overtime," the letter says.

Markey and Tierney asked Diaz whether the inspection occurred and if the NRC would investigate the alleged overtime violations, among other questions.

NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said the agency does not comment on security matters.

"If there is a security issue that is raised with us, we will certainly take a close look at it and respond accordingly," he said.