NRC proposes six-figure fine to TVA; cites two former execs

August 27, 2020, 9:55AMNuclear News

In actions related to its rules involving employee protection, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on August 24 issued a proposed civil penalty of $606,942 to the Tennessee Valley Authority, as well as an order prohibiting a senior TVA executive from NRC-licensed activities for five years and a violation notice to a second executive.

Following investigations completed in October 2019 and January 2020, the NRC concluded that two former TVA employees had been subjected to reprisals for raising concerns regarding a chilled work environment.

Specifics: According to the NRC, in March 2018 an employee at the Sequoyah nuclear plant raised concerns about a chilled work environment, filing complaints with the utility’s employee concerns program. In response, TVA’s director of corporate nuclear licensing, Erin Henderson, filed a complaint against the employee, triggering an investigation that placed the employee on paid administrative leave, which ultimately led to the employee’s resignation in August 2018.

Also in March 2018, a second TVA employee was discriminated against for raising work environment concerns, the NRC said. This employee was also placed on paid administrative leave—again, following a complaint filed by Henderson—and later terminated. In this case, TVA’s vice president of regulatory affairs Joseph Shea “played a significant role in the decision-making process to place the former employee on paid administrative leave and terminate the former employee,” according to the agency.

Work environment warming: The NRC said that it is continuing to review and inspect work environment issues and TVA’s corrective actions at the utility’s corporate office and its three nuclear power plants—Browns Ferry, Sequoyah, and Watts Bar. As stated in the most recent annual assessment of Watts Bar, the NRC has determined that TVA has made progress in addressing these issues.

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