NRC manager accused of intimidating inspectors, blocking safety concerns

A manager at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Region IV office in Arlington, Texas is accused of blocking safety concerns from staff at the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant in Nebraska and intimidating inspectors who raised those concerns, according to The Wall Street Journal.

According to the article, a letter from April 24 was sent to Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), a ranking member of the House energy committee, and the five commissioners, signed from the Region IV staff. The letter said the manager, Troy Pruett, had berated and intimidated inspectors for bringing up safety concerns and downplayed those concerns in discussions with his superiors.

The letter also stated that when the staff brought their concerns to senior management at the NRC’s regional office in Texas, the managers made “only token” efforts to address them, the article said.

The letter also alleges that Pruett tried to override inspectors’ conclusions about Fort Calhoun after the plant suffered a fire in June 2011 that qualified as a “red” event, a ranking of high safety significance. However, Pruitt allegedly told his superiors that the plant issues were “not significant” and that the staff agreed with him, the article said. The letter also said that in at least two cases, workers received downgrades in their performance appraisals after bringing up violations.

Markey sent a letter to NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko calling for an independent investigation in the matter, according to the article.

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