- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 8, 2002

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has sent inspectors to check out Dominion Resources' nuclear plants while the power company faces a strike by 3,700 of its workers.
The government agency that regulates and monitors nuclear reactors wants to verify that the North Anna and Surry nuclear power plants are being operated by authorized workers, agency spokesman Ken Clark said.
"The emphasis is on making sure there are NRC-licensed operators on duty who are handling the controls," he said.
The plants each have two full-time inspectors, but an undisclosed number of additional inspectors came to both plants when workers with the Local 50 chapter of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers went on strike last Friday afternoon, Mr. Clark said.
The added inspectors would remain at the plants until the strike is resolved, he said. Local 50 workers make up one-third of the 800 workers at both plants.
"So far, from a reactor-safety standpoint, [Dominion] has progressed favorably," in following NRC regulations, Mr. Clark said. "But we will continue monitoring these plants until there is a resolution."
Dominion spokesman Dan Genest said the plants have been operating smoothly since the strike began, with the company initiating the second part of its contingency plan to relieve contract workers.
"We are now able to rotate workers and give some time off, begin doing more routine maintenance and preventive maintenance and move into a better routine," Mr. Genest said. "We are having good weather this week and no problems as far as power distribution goes."
Dominion's Virginia Power is the largest electric company in the state, with 2.1 million customers.
Security workers at the nuclear plants did not go on strike, and contractors working at the plants are trained through Dominion, he said.
A reactor operator at the Surry plant, in Surry County on the south bank of the James River southeast of Richmond, said NRC inspectors were coming into the plant before the strike started.
"There were at least four NRC guys I saw that were new coming in there two or three days earlier," said the operator, who was on strike and asked not to be named.
The North Anna plant is 60 miles northwest of Richmond.
Negotiations could restart today, as both sides contacted a federal mediator for a meeting this week.
"We want to get back in the negotiation process," said Brad Stevens, senior business representative for Local 50. "But the strike will continue until we reach a definitive agreement with Dominion."
The union went on strike after refusing Dominion's last offer, citing problems in the pension and medical-benefits plans.
The strike came as U.S. power companies set an electric-output record during the hot spell last week, with Dominion Resources listed among individual companies breaking records, according to the Edison Electrical Institute, an industry association.

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