Created on Saturday, 08 June 2013 Written by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
PERRY, Ohio (AP) — An April prank at a nuclear reactor near Cleveland no longer appears fishy.
Two contractors were responsible for sneaking a pair of goldfish inside the Perry nuclear power plant, plant officials confirmed Friday.
The goldfish were found swimming in a juice pitcher placed in an underground steam tunnel at the plant. They didn't pose a safety concern, but the episode was an embarrassment for the plant already under increased scrutiny for its worker training and procedures.
Plant owner FirstEnergy Corp. interviewed workers and reviewed security cameras and log books during an investigation.
FirstEnergy spokeswoman Jennifer Young said Friday that two contractors admitted in interviews to bringing to the plant five goldfish in juice containers in their lunch boxes. The three others were placed in an equipment staging area in a separate part of the plant and were likely thrown out.
Young said four other contractors knew about the prank and didn't report it.
"The fish really did not present any safety challenge, but the whole incident was not in compliance with the high standards we set and the expectations for professionalism that we have for workers and contractors at our plants," Young said.
Any disciplinary action would be up to the contractors' union, she said.
Some of the contractors were facing expulsion from the union, James Grogan, general president of the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers, told The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer.
He told the newspaper that there would be hearings at the local level.
Young said a screening process is in place for those entering the plant, much like an airport.
"Goldfish aren't something that would likely be picked up as some type of threat to the plant," she said.
Young said the company would continue to evaluate whether changes are needed to worker training and standards.
Workers removing scaffolding inside the tunnel discovered the pair of goldfish April 30.
Normally when the plant is operating, no one is allowed in that area because of the potential for radiation exposure, but the reactor was shut down at the time for routine maintenance.
Tests found the goldfish were swimming in reactor water and only had slightly detectable radiation levels. They died after their discovery.
Nuclear regulators have said they want to know more about what happened.