- Associated Press - Saturday, April 29, 2017

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The nation’s largest public utility suppressed some negative findings about the work environment at one of its nuclear plants in Tennessee, according to a report ordered by the agency’s inspector general.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports (https://bit.ly/2qgBtvI ) that Tennessee Valley Authority’s inspector general hired a consultant to review the work environment at the Watts Bar nuclear plant following concerns brought up in March 2016 by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The NRC found that employees feared harassment, intimidation and retaliation for raising safety concerns at the plant.

The NTD Consulting Group said in its report that managers told investigators that some findings were left out of reports for fear a second reactor would not get licensed. The plant is located near Spring City, Tennessee.

In 2015, a confidential informant’s tip about the plant’s work environment triggered an investigation by two consultants, who were told what to include and exclude in their reports, according to the NTD Consulting Group’s review.

TVA was not “appropriately self-critical” while looking at the plant’s work culture, according to NTD.

“Mistrust permeates the organization, yet in leadership’s mind the challenge is contained to operations and represents a miscommunication problem rather than a need for management to regain trust and credibility,” NTD’s report said.

TVA President and CEO Bill Johnson said the report doesn’t represent the current state of affairs at Watts Bar or at TVA. The report includes interviews conducted by the inspector general in 2015.

“The NRC told us last March we had a chilled work environment at Watts Bar and we have never contested that fact,” Johnson said. “We don’t contest it, and we’ve been working hard for the past year to fix it.”

Johnson said he can’t answer whether TVA dictated what went into third-party reports. He didn’t witness the interviews because the inspector general’s office is independent. Additionally, the NTD group only reviewed the information secondhand, he said.

TVA is a federal power supplier that serves 9 million people in parts of seven states in the Southeast.


Information from: Knoxville News Sentinel, https://www.knoxnews.com

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