The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Tuesday said it had recommended a fine of $232,000 imposed on the Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corp., after a whistleblower at the Kansas nuclear power plant had been put on paid administrative leave, which the regulator considered an “adverse” response to safety concerns that he raised.
At a “pre-decisional enforcement conference” in September of this year, Wolf Creek claimed that placing the Kan-Seal contracted employee on administrative leave did not constitute a punitive action against the whistleblower, given the forced leave did not include a reduction in pay. The NRC, however, noted troublesome behaviors in Wolf Creek’s response to the incident, pointing out that a subsequent in-house investigation of the matter focused on the whistleblower's behavior and not on his claims of a covered up safety incident and the retaliation suffered for reporting the incident.
The incident occurred on Oct. 31, 2016. At that time, “the contracted employee engaged in protected activity when the employee initiated a condition report for an incident during the 2016 refueling outage,” an NRC report on the incident reads. The employee “communicated related concerns directly to Wolf Creek management,” including concerns of retaliation for his bringing the safety concern to light. The actions allowed for legal protections for the worker under the Safety Conscious Work Environment mandate that protects whistleblowers from management retaliation.
According to KVOE.com, Wolf Creek is considering an appeal of the ruling, which would likely send the case to Cornell University, where a mediation process would be put to use.
In a summary of the case, the NRC said the contracted employee raised concerns about retaliation for his safety concerns and “a chilled work environment and SCWE issues.”
”The contract employee also raised concerns that a Wolf Creek employee had attempted to cover up an incident that occurred in containment.” After several meetings with the employee, management then put the employees badge on “supervisor hold,” which denied his access to the plant.
In a quick response to the fine, a Wolf Creek spokesman Justin Daily said that safety was of the highest priority at the Wolf Creek power plant.
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Remember folks. The goal of the NRC is to protect the reputation of the industry. That ensures job security for them. Government workers are just as susceptible to corruption as non-government workers. I learned this first hand at Millstone in Waterford, CT. I would be interested in speaking with this individual.
In a time of immense pressure to compete with deregulated natural gas electrical generation by delivering the "Nuclear Promise",nuclear power plants are looking at EVERY option available to lower their bottom lines to deliver reliable affordable clean energy. Unless nuclear can become more competitive and less regulated......We are going to be burning LNG at more and more deregulated gas power plants.....PERIOD. The regulators know that as well. The nuclear industry in America (I believe anyways) is under a real threat of becoming obsolete due to excessive regulations imposed by 10 CFR 50.1. It is all about the Megawatts and the Money and who can do it the cheapest and right now LNG is cheap.....Real cheap.
I do hope that the general public will someday soon become fully aware and appreciate the mass potential for carbon free, GREEN, limitless Nuclear power for all that could really be "Too cheap to meter". I fear we are already passed the tipping point and headed the other way, though. Only time will tell.