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Ex-worker barred from nuclear sites for a year

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced Tuesday that it has ordered a former security officer who violated procedures at the Crystal River nuclear power plant not to work at a licensed nuclear facility for one year.

On Feb. 9 last year, Darryl D. McNeil was employed as a security lieutenant by SBI, a company that Florida Power Corp. contracts to provide guards at the reactor.

On that day, an employee at the reactor left the building while wearing a security badge, according to the findings of the NRC's investigation. The badges are to be turned over to security when leaving because if someone else were to obtain a badge, he or she could slip by guards and enter the reactor.

The NRC found that two security officers became aware the employee had left with the badge and notified McNeil, who was their supervisor.

McNeil later told an investigator, according to NRC documents, that he knew he was required to deactivate the badge's entry capability and initiate an investigation.

Instead, the NRC's report says McNeil permitted security officers to retrieve the employee's badge when he returned later in the day; to run the badge through as if as it had been properly checked out; and to return the badge to a badge rack.

In a letter sent Monday to McNeil, Edward L. Jordan of the NRC wrote: "You deliberately conspired to cover up the loss of control of a security badge."

McNeil, whose address was redacted from the letter, as required by NRC regulations, could not be reached for comment.

Under the NRC's order, McNeil is prohibited from working at a nuclear plant for one year and is required to notify the NRC of his "first involvement in NRC-licensed activities" during the following year.

He has 20 days to respond and request a hearing. If the NRC does not change its mind, and if McNeil violates the order, he could face criminal prosecution or a civil monetary penalty.

NRC spokesman Ken Clark said the agency has not cited SBI, Florida Power or any other employees in the case.