Cocaine Use Found at NJ Nuclear Power Plant
Salem, NJ Nuclear Power Plant Supervisor Caught Using Cocaine
Recently, a federal drug test that was conducted on a supervisor of a nuclear power plant in Salem, NJ came back positive for cocaine. The more I look into this situation, the more alarmed I am becoming.
Like the Fukishima reactors in Japan, which you’ll recall melted down in Japan just 3 years ago, following an earthquake and tsunami, the Salem plant sits on the water’s edge in a sleepy part of New Jersey.
Federal Drug Testing
I don’t know about you, but this all sounds pretty scary to me. And makes me thankful that the NRC adopted federal drug testing as a normal course of business. Shockingly, in 2012, 205 nuclear power plant employees were caught using cocaine, marijuana, or alcohol on the job. However you feel about drugs, you have to admit that those substances are going to affect your ability to operate equipment. And when an equipment failure or malfunction can affect the lives of tens of thousands of people, not to mention the environment and all the species living in the water and land around the plant, it is serious business. More than 50,000 people actually live within 10 miles of the reactors.
NRC Drug Test vs. DOT Drug Test
The NRC drug test is very similar to the DOT drug test, and both use the Federal Custody and Control Form (CCF), also widely known as a Chain of Custody (COC). They also both test for the same five classes of drugs (cocaine, marijuana, PCP, amphetamines, and opiates) through the urine (and alcohol via breath alcohol test). Both added MDMA/6AM to the amphetamines class in recent years.
When I looked into the process that NRC uses for reasonable suspicion, I was alarmed by their unwillingness to allow testing on workers based on anonymous tips! Sure, in a non-safety-sensitive workplace, it could become invasive to keep on testing workers based on anonymous phone calls. Worker protections are, of course, very important. But when you are a supervisor of a nuclear power plant? Shouldn’t those protections cede way to the greater good of protecting the public? If an anonymous caller identifies a supervisor as a drug user…so what! If the said supervisor has nothing to hide, he or she should be proud to take a federal urine drug test to prove it.
That’s my opinion on this radioactive topic. What’s yours?