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Unsafety at Brown’s Ferry nuclear plant, and a whistleblower’s case

whistleblowerFor Johnson, speaking out has had consequences, as she said she ran up substantial legal bills without expectation of a resolution with TVA. But she became more concerned about the costs of not speaking out.

“I found myself in the position of becoming a whistleblower when TVA management altered root cause reports I authored to subdue their findings,” she said last week. “I hope that bringing this story to public light will force TVA to address the safety significance of altering the findings of teams of engineers and experts for the sake of protecting production and their own bonuses.”

safety-symbol1Browns Ferry: Shrinking the safety margin at Alabama’s largest nuclear plant By Challen Stephens and Brian Lawson, All Alabama 7 July 13

What federal regulators have said in recent years:

• Browns Ferry received a red finding, the federal government’s most serious warning Flag-USAbefore shutdown.

• Browns Ferry failed to notice a blocked low-pressure cooling line.

• Inspectors discovered wider problems with safety culture at Browns Ferry.

What a search of TVA and Nuclear Regulatory Commission documents also shows:

• The backup low-pressure line also malfunctioned.

• The high-pressure core spray was installed incorrectly.

• The Unit 1 reactor operated for years with overlapping, malfunctioning emergency cooling systems.

What a whistleblower alleges, and paperwork supports:

• TVA ignored or obscured failing safety tests for malfunctioning equipment.

• TVA hurried to install equipment based on managerial bonuses.

What TVA acknowledges in their own paperwork:

• The plant operated for years with a bias toward power production over safety.

ATHENS, Alabama – For more than two years, the largest nuclear plant in Alabama operated without a fully functioning failsafe system.  ……..

Johnson said the basis for her complaints was that TVA officials attempted to manipulate her team’s findings related to equipment failures and how those findings pointed to organizational failures. A report by TVA’s own inspector general backs up Johnson’s equipment concerns about overlapping failures in the emergency cooling system.

The discrimination investigation remains open.

“You retaliate enough and people aren’t going to come forward, and that’s the real safety significance,” said Johnson, who declined to be photographed for this report………

For Johnson, speaking out has had consequences, as she said she ran up substantial legal bills without expectation of a resolution with TVA. But she became more concerned about the costs of not speaking out.

“I found myself in the position of becoming a whistleblower when TVA management altered root cause reports I authored to subdue their findings,” she said last week. “I hope that bringing this story to public light will force TVA to address the safety significance of altering the findings of teams of engineers and experts for the sake of protecting production and their own bonuses.” http://blog.al.com/wire/2013/07/browns_ferry.html

July 8, 2013 - Posted by | employment, safety, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA

3 Comments »

  1. Thanks for this. This alone proves the importance of your work. There seems to be only two references about this and yours is one of the two. If the original disappears there will be no record at all. This offers important clues. This reactor is an especially strange case for the US as it belongs to a government owned entity (TVA), is old and should be shut down immediately. It probably offers clues to what’s wrong or went wrong with other State owned nuclear corporations (aka quangos) such as Areva-EDF, Rosatom and the former British Nuclear all of which are huge screw-ups.
    I unfortunately remain jealous of your productivity and your success at occupying the internet. I won’t hope that I am as successful as you in a few years because the nuclear industry must be shut down now!

    Comment by miningawareness | June 1, 2015 | Reply

  2. […] of teams of engineers and experts for the sake of protecting production and their own bonuses.” https://nuclear-news.net/2013/07/08/unsafety-at-browns-ferry-nuclear-plant-and-a-whistleblowers-case/ (Emphasis our own) Ah-hah! Small wonder that they’ve had so many problems. The TVA is owned […]

    Pingback by US NRC – “Beyond Design Basis” as Excuse for Ignoring Risks: Revising Pressure/Temperature Limits as “Non-Significant Hazard” at the TVA’s Brown’s Ferry 3 Nuclear Reactor; Hidden Beneath Cybersecurity changes, Jun | June 2, 2015 | Reply

  3. […] of teams of engineers and experts for the sake of protecting production and their own bonuses.” https://nuclear-news.net/2013/07/08/unsafety-at-browns-ferry-nuclear-plant-and-a-whistleblowers-case/ (Emphasis our own) Ah-hah! Small wonder that they’ve had so many problems. The TVA is owned […]

    Pingback by US NRC – “Beyond Design Basis” as Excuse for Ignoring Risks: Revising Pressure/Temperature Limits as “Non-Significant Hazard” at the TVA’s Brown’s Ferry 3 Nuclear Reactor; Hidden Beneath Cybersecurity changes, Jun | June 2, 2015 | Reply


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