By Deborah Yao
The Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA - A security guard at the Three Mile Island nuclear power
plant was so absorbed in playing a hand-held video game that he failed
to see an inspector approach during a surprise inspection, the agency
The employee did not violate any rules as guards are allowed to engage
in mind-stimulating activities, the state Department of Environmental
But the alleged lapse - which follows five other reports of employee
inattention in the past two years - is prompting officials to review
"The issue is not the guard's use of the video game," Kathleen
McGinty, secretary of the environmental agency, said in a statement.
"The real issue is that his complete absorption in the game distracted
him from noticing the repeated approach of our inspector. And that
shows why this procedure needs to be changed and these video games
disallowed," she said.
The state agency will work with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
and nuclear plant operators to review policies after the latest
inspection, which was first reported by The Patriot-News of Harrisburg
in Saturday editions.
The department's nuclear safety staff conducted a surprise check
between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. Friday at the Dauphin County plant. The
guard did respond properly to a radio check while the inspector was
present, McGinty said.
The guard's only responsibility is to respond to radio checks and be
ready to take action if necessary, the agency said.
Gov. Ed Rendell sanctioned the off-hour surprise checks in February at
each of the state's five nuclear power plants after public concerns
emerged over reports of employee inattentiveness at Three Mile Island.
AmerGen Energy, the company that operates Three Mile Island, had
reassigned a shift manager suspected of sleeping on the job.
Three Mile Island, located about 10 miles southeast of Harrisburg, was
the site of the nation's worst nuclear accident when a partial
meltdown occurred in 1979.
Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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