SEIU: NJ Consumers Win Relief From Increased Electricity Rates, Poor Nuclear Security Performance

Second Report This Year of Sleeping Guards at Wackenhut-Guarded Nuclear Plants Owned by Exelon

PRNewswire — Friday, September 15, 2006

TRENTON, N.J., Sept. 15 /PRNewswire/ — New Jersey consumers, including 28,000 low-wage service workers united in Service Employees International Union New Jersey State Council, won relief from a potential increase in electric rates today – as well as relief from Exelon's absolute accountability for its troubled security contractor Wackenhut – when the Chicago-based energy giant dropped plans to takeover PSEG.

The proposed merger could have raised electric rates by as much as $2.3 billion a year across the state according to a report from New Jersey Citizen Action, reduced reliability and quality of service, and risked public safety. Wackenhut guards nearly half the nation's commercial nuclear power plants and highly sensitive nuclear weapons sites where there have been numerous security problems. Wackenhut is wholly owned by London-based Group 4 Securicor.

"Working families of New Jersey won a huge victory today over a corporate giant that sought not only to gain at ratepayers' expense, but also to further expose the state's residents to the inferior nuclear security of Exelon's contractor Wackenhut," said Claudia Granados of Service Employees International Union New Jersey State Council.

Service Employees International Union New Jersey State Council joined an unprecedented coalition of residential, consumer and industrial utility ratepayers to oppose the companies' proposed marriage. New Jersey Citizen Action, NJPIRG, Public Citizen, the New Jersey Large Energy Users Coalition, the Chemistry Council of New Jersey, the New Jersey Tenants Organization, the Sierra Club of New Jersey and others worked to educate the public and decision makers about the damage to our state economy if such a giant super monopoly were to be created.

Exelon's proposed bid to takeover PSEG would have given the company 100 percent control over Hope Creek and Salem nuclear power plants in New Jersey and Peach Bottom nuclear plant in nearby Pennsylvania. The Wackenhut Corporation provides security at each of these facilities, and Exelon has a national contract with Wackenhut to provide security at 10 operating nuclear power plants.

"We expect that by retaining local ownership stakes in these nuclear plants, PSEG will be more responsive to the security needs of the local community and do more to hold Wackenhut accountable," Granados said.

Absent the proposed merger, PSEG retains 100 percent ownership of Hope Creek, 57 percent of Salem and 50 percent of Peach Bottom.

Wackenhut has had several recent performance problems at nuclear sites wholly owned by Exelon including an incident in which a security supervisor was caught sleeping while on duty at Exelon's Limerick nuclear power plant in Sanatoga, PA. This latest "inattentive" guard incident at Limerick occurred about 250 miles from Exelon's Three Mile Island (TMI) nuclear power plant where five Wackenhut guards – including a supervisor in the control room – were caught sleeping while on duty, as reported in January 2006, by The Patriot-News. News of the sleeping guards at TMI prompted the State of Pennsylvania to conduct surprise inspections at least twice a month at Pennsylvania's five nuclear power plants, including the Wackenhut-guarded Three Mile Island, Limerick, and Peach Bottom facilities. Each of these three plants is owned by Exelon Corporation.

A memo was sent to Wackenhut security supervisors at TMI indicating that veteran guards at the plant were "informing new hires of all the locations that they could catch a quick nap," while on duty, according to The Patriot- News. The memo also maintained that new hires were being told of shortcuts for tasks and warned of the "horrors" of working for Wackenhut.

Fourth Wackenhut-Guarded Nuclear Plant under NRC Investigation

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has conducted four separate investigations into security at Wackenhut-guarded nuclear facilities this year.

DOE also Investigating Wackenhut for Falsification of Training Records

Wackenhut is also facing investigation concerning possible falsification of training records at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge Reservation, according to the DOE Inspector General. A conviction or civil judgment for falsification of records may be grounds for suspension or debarment of contracts under the U.S. government's federal acquisitions regulations.

Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense Drop Wackenhut

News of Wackenhut's security failures at Limerick follows the Department of Homeland Security dropping Wackenhut's $9.6 million/yr. contract to protect its Washington, D.C. headquarters and the Department of Defense cutting short contracts to protect U.S. Army bases – including one where Wackenhut is eligible to receive an estimated $47 million/yr. as a subcontractor – to put them out for competitive bidding. Wackenhut was a loser in 2003 when a portion of the Army base security work had been put out to competitive bidding.

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