04.07.10

SCHUMER: FEDERAL BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR NUCLEAR WORKERS INADEQUATE - CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE BEEFING UP OF BACKGROUND CHECK SYSTEM FOR EMPLOYEES AT U.S. NUCLEAR PLANTS AFTER REPORTS OF A MAN WITH AL QAEDA TIES WORKED AT NJ PLANT

As World Wide Terror Threats Remain, Plants, Such As the Nine Mile Plants And Fitzpatrick Plant in Oswego County, That Do a Superb Job With Security Will Need More Help - Oswego Plants Have Strong Record Of Safety; Schumer Pushes To Ensure They Are Given Every Resource To Make Sure No One Infiltrates PlantsRecent Reports Saying That Suspected Al Qaeda Member Sharif Mobley Was Radicalized As Early As 2006 But Maintained His Job At An New Jersey Nuclear Plant Until 2008 Before Movin

Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer called for an immediate federal probe by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Inspector General into the background checks conducted on new and transferred employees at U.S. nuclear plants and the Commission's procedures for monitoring current employees. Schumer announced his push at Nine Mile Plants, an Oswego based energy facility. Schumer's call followed reports that a man, Sharif Mobley, found to have ties to alQaeda, worked at a number of different New Jersey nuclear plants after becoming radicalized.

 

"We need to take every precaution to ensure that radicalized terrorists are kept away from our country's nuclear facilities," Schumer said. "Our facilities in New York have a great safety record, but would benefit greatly from additional federal resources it's time to review and revamp the way we handle nuclear safety in this country."

 

 In making his case for revamped background checks at our country's nuclear facilities, Schumer pointed to reports that Sharif Mobley, an American who is being held in Yemen as a suspected militant with an alQaeda affiliated group, worked at the Salem and Hope Creek nuclear reactors in New Jersey and other reactors in the area. The company, Public Service Enterprise Group Inc., said in a report to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission that Mobley worked as a laborer from 2002 to 2008, mainly during refueling outages for several weeks at a time. Despite becoming radicalized in 2006, Mobley continued to work at the facility until 2008.

Mobley worked for several contractors at three nuclear power plants in New Jersey from 2002 to 2008. Mobley carried supplies and did maintenance work at the plants on Artificial Island in Lower Alloways Creek, and worked at other plants in the region as well. He satisfied federal background checks as recently as 2008.

 

Schumer today called for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Inspector General to conduct an immediate and thorough review of the Commission's procedures for background checks on new and transfer employees and for improved monitoring of current employees at all U.S. nuclear plants. The current background check examines, among other things, criminal history, employment history, a psychological assessment and behavioral observation. However, the NRC delegates the authority to complete background checks, which results in a certain degree of disparity in how checks are carried out, and what information is ultimately covered.  Also, the checks are not required to cover such information as past travel, and ties with other countries.  Schumer said that in addition to increased scrutiny, the feds should be provided more resources to nuclear power plants to conduct these background checks.  The plants located in Oswego have been very successful in running a safe operation, but in an increasingly dangerous world, they should be provided with more resources to see that this pattern continues. 

 

Schumer added "When Sharif Mobley's name pops up on a suspected terrorist list while NRC is conducting a background check, we have to connect the dots. There should be bells, whistles, and alarms going off immediately. We have the information we need; it's just an issue of making sure that the information gets into the hands of the people conducting the background checks."

 

Schumer said there have been problems reported in the past with the background check procedures at the NRC. In February, the Inspector General released a report critical of the NRC's personnel security clearance program for the agency's employees. The report actually found that the "NRC's personnel security clearance program lacks sufficient management controls and oversight to measure the program's efficiency and assign accountability for the program's performance."

 

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