SCRIBA, NY – As IBEW Local 97’s strike against Constellation Energy Nuclear Group drags on, plant officials maintain that the replacement workers are operating the station properly and safely.
“CENG’s top priority is safety; we will not jeopardize our ability to operate the facility safely. Constellation Energy Nuclear Group’s continued focus is on maintaining safe, reliable operation of the plants. We would never do anything to jeopardize our ability to operate the facility safely,” said Jill Lyon, company spokesperson.
Nine Mile Point units 1 and 2 continue to operate safely at 100%, she noted.
As part of its contingency plan in the event of a strike, Constellation Energy Nuclear Group trained and reassigned personnel in order to maintain safe operations.
“The IBEW Local 97 has been calling into question the training and qualifications of the personnel operating the facilities through the contingency plan. They are falsely stating that these personnel only completed two weeks of job shadowing prior to taking over the work – this is not inaccurate,” Lyon said. “We have a rigorous training and qualification program that is accredited by INPO and all of these employees have to go through this process in order to perform work.”
Personnel have demonstrated through the testing of their knowledge and practical skills that they are qualified to perform the tasks safely and effectively, she said, adding, “Our work activities are strictly controlled by detailed procedural steps.”
These management employees are not only familiar with the steps and provide direct field oversight of their performance but have also been the individuals involved with writing the directions and ensuring the right standards have been incorporated, according to Lyon.
The senior licensed operators are not a part of Local 97 – these individuals are licensed U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and highly, trained, she noted.
It is Senior Reactor Operators that are performing the jobs of Reactor Operators. All of the operators were assessed in the simulators by Operations management to ensure they could fulfill the functions before the work stoppage occurred, Lyon added.
All Senior Reactor Operators are licensed by the NRC.
The SROs are licensed to a higher level than the Reactor Operators.
The Senior Reactor Operators are evaluated in the Reactor Operator position as well as the Senior Reactor Operator position as part of the licensing process.
The Senior Reactor Operators are licensed to (not only) direct the activities of the Reactor Operators as well as to perform reactor operator tasks.
According to Lyon, SROs are tested by the NRC to the RO and SRO level of knowledge. This testing requires both demonstration of knowledge and practical skills. The SRO requires system knowledge the same as an RO but also a higher level of understanding with regards to engineering theory, legal operating requirements and leadership skills.
“In day-to-day operations of the facility, it is ultimately the SRO who owns and has accountability for the answering questions from the ROs, oversight of their actions and approval of all operating decisions,” she said. “Several of the employees filling contingency plan positions had previously held these positions and over the course of their careers at the facility moved into different roles. We have employees with years of skills and experience.”
“Our contingency plans have been developed over the course of a year and have been reviewed by key stakeholders including the NRC. The NRC has no issues with our contingency plan and has provided additional oversight at the station,” she continued. “Constellation Energy Nuclear Group has bargained in good faith.”
No new date has been set for both sides to return to the table, however.
“The company remains committed to bargaining in good faith. Our goal is to get our employees back to work as expeditiously as possible. We respect their right to strike, and we want to end that as soon as we can,” Lyon said. “We have reached out to the Federal mediator to make sure he knows the company continues to be interested in reaching an agreement. His role is to help move discussions forward.”