BRAINTREE, Mass., June 15, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant managers canceled a vital safety drill on Wednesday because of short staffing by replacement workers during Entergy's lockout of union workers.
The quarterly safety drills are the backbone of Pilgrim Nuclear's emergency response preparedness, and they regularly involve municipal public safety officials and detailed simulation of various emergency scenarios and response protocols. The drill was scheduled for Wednesday, June 13th and has yet to be rescheduled.
"It's deeply alarming to know that this critical safety drill was canceled because Entergy doesn't have enough manpower in the plant, particularly when there are 240 experienced workers ready and willing to do their jobs," said Dan Hurley, president of the Utility Workers Union of America Local 369. "This drill happens only once a quarter and serves a vital role in helping operations and response crews interact and practice real emergency scenarios that could arise at Pilgrim Nuclear. The drill's cancellation is disturbing and another indication that Entergy is placing profits before the safety of workers and our communities."
The quarterly safety drill features a variety of simulated emergency scenarios of increasing intensity and severity, and includes remote command posts and radiation controls. Workers and emergency response crews even practice chasing a fake nuclear plume should the plant ever have a leak or melt down.
Louisiana-based Entergy Corp. makes a million dollars a day from Pilgrim Nuclear, and the company recently received a 20-year license renewal from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Entergy last week locked out nearly 250 members of UWUA Local 369 following negotiations with workers over key healthcare, safety and staffing issues. Many of the locked out workers have decades of experience operating the 40-year-old nuclear power plant.
News of the cancelled safety drill comes as union leaders have scheduled a rally to protest Entergy's ongoing lockout of experienced workers next Tuesday, June 19th at 1 p.m. outside the Massachusetts State House. Among those expected to attend are Mass. AFL-CIO President Steven Tolman, Senate President Therese Murray, State Representative Martin Walsh, State Treasurer Steven Grossman, and representatives from other unions.
"Entergy's ongoing lockout of the experienced workers who know how to safely manage this plant is irresponsible and unconscionable," said Hurley. "The tens of thousands of dollars Entergy is wasting on this lockout could be better invested in a fair and reasonable contract for the hardworking men and women who run this plant and keep it safe and profitable for management. This rally is to let Entergy know that excessive profits should not come at the expense of the safety of our workers and our committees."
Questions and problems continue to mount for Entergy in Massachusetts. A replacement worker this week questioned the competency of Entergy's management team inside the plant, while UWUA Local 369 last week filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board against the company. The charge includes allegations that Entergy management made a series of "coercive, threatening" statements to workers prior to the early June contract vote in an attempt to influence the outcome. The charge also includes allegations that Entergy-employed security forces are attempting to intimidate picketing workers by video and audio taping them outside of Pilgrim.
Entergy operates or manages ten nuclear power plants around the nation, including those in Michigan, Vermont, Arkansas and Mississippi.
SOURCE Utility Workers Union of America Local 369