Safety Compromised at Nuclear Plant, Lawsuit States

A security guard at New York’s Indian Point nuclear power plant has filed a lawsuit for more than $1.5 billion due to its lax security.

Clifton “Skip” Travis, Jr., a 47-year-old security lieutenant, is concerned about the safety of the 20 million people within the 50-mile radius that he is responsible for protecting.

The lawsuit was filed against three supervisors and Entergy, which owns the power plant, in New York Supreme Court in Westchester County on September 11th.  Travis is seeking compensatory damages of $20 million and punitive damages of $1.5 billion.

Travis was hired as a security officer in 2008 and promoted to lieutenant a year later. He claims the power plant is unsecure, stating that staffers regularly watch DVDs, play video games and sleep while on the job. He said the guards joke about where to hide during a terrorist attack and fail miserably at training drills.

Travis also claims that emphasis on profits over security led to the installation of the new monitoring system without adequate training. The computerized security monitoring system called ARINCS, was quickly implemented in February, in order to avoid fines by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which he claims failed repeatedly and has crashed over 7,800 times in 2012 alone.

The NRC oversees the safety and security of the nation’s nuclear facilities.  He says employees throughout the plant refer to the federal regulator as “No Real Concerns.”

The security guard has made numerous complaints within the company, as well as to the NRC. In addition, he has met with and voiced his concerns to representatives from the office of the governor, as well as the attorney general’s office.

According to the complaint, security is such a low priority at the plant that nearly half of the lights that illuminate its perimeter do not work.

The lawsuit claims the power plant, which is less than 50 miles north of New York City, routinely failed anti-terrorism drills and “terrorists,” during mock force-on-force assaults, end up taking over their targets.

The company allegedly was improperly storing nuclear waste materials at the power plant.

Supervisors at the plant encouraged employees to falsify records related to how much security training they received, according to the lawsuit.  It is also stated in the lawsuit that one employee filled out paperwork, indicating he had received more than 60 hours of training on a single day!

A spokesman for Entergy stated that the company invested more than $100 million in the past decade on security measures, which, he claims is deemed secure by the federal government.

Travis said that he has been overwhelmed by anxiety and that the fear of the plant’s insecurity has caused his family life to suffer. He took a leave of absence in November 2011 due to severe emotional distress, after he was retaliated against for his whistleblowing. Although his therapist cleared him to return to work last March, he said he was never returned to the schedule, despite repeated requests. He believes that he had been kept out of work for months because of his criticism of the company’s handling of security issues, including complaints to state and federal officials.

“I understand that they’re in business to make money…but my job, my concern, my obligation is to defend that facility against radiological sabotage,” Travis said during an interview Wednesday. “It was never my intention to hurt them…This is not a vendetta. This is holding them accountable.” He also added, “I will not sit idly by while they put profits over lives. I don’t ever want to be in a position in my life to say, ‘I told you so.’”

On Friday, Travis requested that Governor Andrew Cuomo deploy National Guard troops at the nuclear power plants until, what he says are serious security concerns, can be addressed.

It is alleged that Entergy earns about $4 million a day. The lawsuit is seeking $1.5 billion in punitive damages, which would represent about two years of their profits. That is where it will hurt them most, in their pocketbooks.

If Entergy Corp. officials are sacrificing the safety of so many Americans for the sake of their profits, they should be held accountable. What do you think about this news? Do you feel any less safe?

For more information, contact a Gacovino Lake attorney at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).

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