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Ont. nuclear facility says firing of contractors in conduct probe not a security risk

TORONTO - Bruce Power is reassuring the public that the plant's security wasn't compromised after several dozen employees were fired for Internet violations, but critics say the company is releasing too little information to put anyone's mind to rest.

TORONTO - Bruce Power is reassuring the public that the plant's security wasn't compromised after several dozen employees were fired for Internet violations, but critics say the company is releasing too little information to put anyone's mind to rest.

"There was no information that put any operational issues, safety issues or security issues at risk at all," said Ross Lamont, a spokesman for Bruce Power.

"This is just inappropriate behaviour on the part of employees that does not impact on any of the essential things."

Lamont said the violations were related to Internet use but wouldn't go into detail, or even confirm a report that the number of employees fired was close to 100.

"We're talking a significant number," he said, adding the violations related to temporary employees and contractors who held a wide range of jobs.

"But there was no one involved here that is in a position to offer any kind of a risk to the ongoing operation," Lamont added.

He said under normal procedure police would be notified if there was any suspicion of criminal activity. He wasn't aware of any police investigation in this case.

Police said they also weren't aware of any kind of probe.

Greenpeace energy expert Shawn-Patrick Stensil said the firings were significant, especially at a time when digital security is becoming a top concern.

"Digital attacks on nuclear stations could disrupt the operation of the plant or compromise its safety," said Stensil.

"If up to a hundred people have committed some sort of offence to compromise that safety in some way we should know about it and the regulator should be involved."

Stensil said he wasn't comforted by Bruce's reassurances, saying the lack of transparency about the incident is unsettling.

"How can we know the nuclear plant is actually running safely unless they're forthright with what's happening at the plant?" he said.

A spokeswoman for Energy Minister George Smitherman declined to comment on the incident, calling it an internal matter.

"The situation at Bruce is a labour issue involving contractors not employees at Bruce," said spokeswoman Amy Tang.

"We don't have any comment or criticisms on the matter."

Lamont insisted there was no threat to the operation of the site, its security or safety.

"There's absolutely nothing for people to worry about," he said.

"We're just trying to be a conscientious employer where the vast majority of employees who are on site, who follow the code of conduct, they have the right to expect that if other employees do not, or other contractors do not, that they're dealt with appropriately."

Bruce Power, about 250 kilometres northwest of Toronto near Kincardine, Ont., employs nearly 4,000 people.

Privately run Bruce Power recently announced it was dropping plans to build new nuclear reactors in Nanticoke and in Bruce County - plans that never had the approval of the provincial government - because of declining demand for electricity.

That move came just weeks after the Ontario government announced an unspecified delay in its own plans to build two new reactors at the Darlington nuclear station.

 
 
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