Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Somebody Pass the Donuts

There’s a video here that will not reassure you about the security in our nuclear power stations.

The video is about three minutes long. You are treated to the sight of snoring security guards in the ready room, not far from the nuclear reactors. Every single one of those guys is dead asleep. Not an open eye in the room. Do you think it’s something circulating through the vents?

It’s true: we really do have a bunch of Homer Simpsons snoring on duty.




Timbre said...

It's one thing to let your buddy, who just became a father or mother, catch a few zz's after several sleepless nights, while the rest of the squad covers. It's quite a different matter for the entire squad to be getting paid to snooze--when they should be 100% awake and alert!

ziontruth said...

A terrible reality, as well as a metaphor for the crisis of our age.

"The sleeper must awake" - Duke Leto Atreides.

falcon_01 said...

“Paging Homer Simpson in Sector 7G, please wake up.”

That’s real reassuring… These people should have taken some pride in their work. Not everyone has the chance to say, “I am responsible for the safety of millions of people.” To be trusted with such responsibilty should be viewed as a great honor. To betray that trust is beyond dishonorable.
Sure, there are other, easier targets, but it is still a very serious responsibility, and it’s sad to see it treated so flippantly. All it takes is one screw up on their part, and they along with countless others, could lose their lives.

Timbre has a good point however, covering for someone in one of those positions is a humane thing to do, and in reality you have to make allowances, as long as they can be effectively covered for and alert at a moments notice- a trait which most security professionals pride themselves on. The buddy system of standing watch is a time proven method of extending effectiveness, but everyone asleep is worthless.

They should have a couple on patrol and a couple in the ready room. Heck, it is conceivable that the people in the ready room could even be playing video games, reading, or doing schoolwork, to stay awake as long as they are awake and ready to move at a moments notice. Everyone sleeping while on duty to protect people is just a disgrace.

pela68 said...

Cathing a few ZZZ:s while somebody else is watching out. Well that´s not the end of the world- is it?

Somebody was clearly awake- who sot the video otherwise?

But yes- these guys are being payed to stay awake. And it´s a semi- civilian job (My god! would I give the soldier I found sleeping on post a good spanking!)

But! I´ll give these guys the benefit of a doubt. Who knows really how many other security officers that were on duty at that time? In the video, they never say that. Atleast one was videotaping, WHEN HE SHOULD HAVE BEEN DOING HIS JOB!

Well I guess HE is really proud of himself...

spackle said...

The irony here is that these guys will be replaced with different yahoo's who will probably do the same thing after a couple of months on the job. Didnt these guys ever hear of coffee?

Dr.D said...

In their defense, there are few jobs any more boring than standing watch in a power plant, any kind of power plant. The plant goes on, doing its thing, hour after hour, day after day, and most of the time there is absolutely nothing to do except "stay ready." Do you have any idea how hard that is to do? Just imagine trying to set at your desk, focused on nothing, but staying alert. You cannot get into doing something productive because that might cause you to overlook something happening in the plant.

I'm not saying that what these guys are doing is OK. What I am saying is that the system is unreasonable. We have a system that is designed to make impossible demands on people, so why should we be surprised when they fail at it? No bright person would settle for a job like this, so you only get the losers in the first place.

I have been in a number of power plant control rooms, and it is the same story in everyone I have ever been in.

Dymphna said...


You make some telling points in their defense. Your comments reminded me of the croupier in Las Vegas I knew many years ago. When you worked the tables or the crap pit in the casinos, you needed to be hyper-alert in what was essentially a boring job. In order to keep good employees, and to avoid losing $, the owners set up some strict rules:

No one worked more than two hours without being relieved. For a half hour break you did something besides stare at that table. I believe that work shifts were limited to three 2 hour stints. In addition, you worked the same shift -- none of this days one week and nights the next. So people's circadian rhythms could adjust. I also think it paid fairly well for wages at the time.

Just as croupiers or black jack tables draw a particular kind of person as an employee, so it is for security guards. I can think of a # of ways to improve job satisfaction for the guards.

For example, it could be set up just like firehouses: those guys are relaxed but they're always ready to go. The shifts could be longer or shorter, depending on what worked best.

Some team building needed to take place too, just as firehouses do. Without that you have ennui and boredom. It doesn't have to be that way.

And, of course, there should be an activity log and on-going training.

This is a top down problem, just like homeland insecurity, TSA and ICE. As one air marshall put it, the whole thing is "for show." We're no more safe in planes now than we were pre 9/11.

Since the power plants are privately owned (according to the video), there ought to be penalties all the way up the line. Just like in real life. Instead, they just get rid of the contract security company.

Big woo.