Whistle Blower Claims

Testimony from Anonymous Sources

Testimony from Anonymous Sources – Employees have contacted me as a result of an article I wrote recently about Whistle Blowers. These were all provided to the NRC so they could investigate the validity of these claims. I’ve been told that many of them have been corroborated by other sources, and that the NRC will be providing a scathing quarterly report at the end of March. We can only hope that until then, we will succeed in halting progress before Unit 2’s nuclear fuel rods are activated, making it lethal if something goes wrong as it builds up to full steam. I am prepared to take the consequences of possible retaliation and hope to be proven wrong, but not the other way around. Read on, and ask yourself what you would have done if you were in my situation.


Each background color represents comments from one source, and no color for my comments.


This is from someone who no longer works at the plant but keeps up with people that are still there.

As far as SONGS, I will give you some examples. The bottom line is the attitude, or lack of, is the problem.
1. This is what I was told happened about three-four weeks ago during the current refuel/steam generator replacement project outage at unit-2 (scheduled for I think 96 days and is currently around 120 days that both you and I pay for because of all of the stupid errors they make). The nuclear industry has an FME program at each site. This is “Foreign Material Exclusion”. The program is to prevent any type of debris from entering any of the plant systems so that you do not increase radiation levels (from crud build up) and more importantly to prevent plant components from getting damaged. One result is the release of radiation to the general public. Well, when they were putting the fuel back into the reactor vessel, there was spotted a wad of something (heard it was a ball of tape) in the reactor pool (they move the fuel under water). Instead of stopping with moving the fuel, because they had lost control of the FME program (i.e., what else might have been dropped into the cavity water) they continued with putting fuel into the reactor vessel. When the NRC was notified, they asked “Why the heck have you not stopped and first fixed the problem and determine if there are other things you may have dropped into the reactor water and possibly the reactor vessel. Only then did they stop work.
If XXX goes to the meeting and if there is a representative from SCE, ask the question”Yes or no, did SONGS lose control of their FME program during refueling the Unit-2 reactor this winter and did the NRC ask why you have not stopped work until an investigation into the cause of failure of the FME program was performed?” If they so no, they are lying.
2. While at Unit-1, because of schedule pressure, my supervisor ordered that some contaminated sand be moved from one location to another location that I had previously surveyed and had documented the results. These results would be part of the NRC submittal for license termination. I informed my supervisor that he cannot relocate this contaminated sand without a program in place to document these activities. In other words, movement of this contaminated sand would invalidate records that would be submitted to the NRC. A document with my name on it. He went ahead and did it. I started looking for a new job the next day and then left for XXXXXXXX a month later. I will refer to this again later.
3. At Unit-1, we removed two large pumps that pump ocean water through the condenser to cool the primary water. Once removed, there was about a 6′ diameter opening to the intake/outfall conduits. This conduit was about 15′ down. In other words, you could fall 15′ to your death. We put scaffolding around each of the openings so no one would fall to their death. When I had to oversee the survey of these conduits, we placed an extension ladder in the opening so we could get to the bottom. What construction group failed to do was remove the bolts that were still sticking up from the pump housing flange. The flange surrounded the 6? opening. Thus, a tripping hazard that if you tripped, you could fall to your death. When I asked for 4-5 of these to be cut off to leave a flat surface for people to walk on, I was told no. At which point I said “Bob, let me make sure I understand you correctly. We have a tripping hazard in the work place and what is the worst thing that can happen is someone trips and falls 15′ to their death and you do not want to correct this problem. He said that is correct”
4. At each US nuclear plant, there is a department called the “nuclear safety concerns” program/department. The idea behind this is for workers to be able to report concerns anonymously without fear of repercussions from management. Plants would prefer this method than going directly to the NRC. Well, I reported the two items above and asked for them to investigate. One, they forgot about my complaint and did not get back with me for over two months. Then, when they did investigate, they:
(a) cited the wrong document that was now invalid by my supervisors actions
(b) stated site safety determined my safety concern was not valid. I had a “safety” card that SCE issued to each employee and there were seven items listed on the safety card. Examples were: tripping hazard, uneven surfaces, akward body position, to name three.
Hopefully you get the picture. Just an overall mind set/attitude about keep your mouth shut and who cares if you follow procedures and programs.
In his second email he made this comment.
That would be fine with removing my name and then forwarding. I was hoping with the new senior management that have hired that the overall accountability by individuals would have improved by now. Unfortunately, it appears that it has not. If you recall, just a month or two ago two management employees went public with what they claim was retaliation by senior management due to their raising issues with employee non-performance. I have very little doubt that their claims are 100% true.

Phone call from source on 1/26/10
Another high ranking manager at the plant left a voicemail for me in reference to the letter I wrote to the City Council on January 19. This person said?
?Thanks for keeping us honest. We are embarrassed by the stupid things that are taking place. The recent unusual event should never have happened (shutting down both backup generators due to miscommunication forcing a shutdown of Unit 3). It is disappointing to those of us that hold ourselves to higher standards when some of our colleagues don?t get it right more frequently. Now, we expect things to appear even worse with more inspectors. If you bring in more guys to do inspections you are guaranteed to find more problems.?

You probably don’t realize it but your group did have an impact. First, John Fielder is the president of SCE and also the number 3 man at EIX was at the meeting. It is extremely unusual for of corporate officer of his level to attend a meeting of this type. This indicates that SCE is concerned and I believe that is a result of your efforts. Second, the fact that Ross met with the Mayor and some of his staff prior to the meeting tells me that he is scared. I believe it is important for your group to push the Mayor and City Council for a public meeting. During the meeting SCE (Ross) and the NRC indicated that the siren electrical cabinets that were leaking had inspections and interim repairs performed to insure that they would be functional until the new gaskets could be installed. This all sounded very grand and official. In fact trash bags were taped over the panels (see attached photos). This is not what would be expected for a system that the public depends on to warn them in the event of an accident. It is another example of the continuing problems at SONGS… I would send these photos to the Mayor and City council and ask if they consider this a sufficient repair for such an important safety system. You may also want to ask the Mayor if he was briefed about the failure of the large crane that was used to remove the old, highly radioactive steam generators, and install the new ones. It failed shortly after the last generator was installed with one of the massive hooks and cables crashing to the ground. I believe your best approach is to use the strength of your group to influence the Mayor and City Council. The employees don’t use the hot line because they are afraid, you had an opportunity to see first had just how bureaucratic the NRC is and how slowly they respond. You could be fired and lose everything you have before any action was taken. It wasn’t this way before Ross and his group; employee and public safety was more important than anything else.

(You?ll see that I was not supposed to publish this letter but I have since asked permission and got this response from this person who also happens to have a Nuclear Power Operators License, ?Yes you can publish my letter and thanks for hanging in there, it is unfortunate that government people can only take action after something bad happens and not before. I still haven’t heard back from the NRC, in their last email they said “sorry for the delay, we’re very busy”).

I read your article about the whistleblowers at San Onofre Nuclear Plant and found it to be very interesting, I have worked at SONGS for 30 years and working conditions have gotten to be to oppressive.  I don’t want this letter to be published or my identity to be revealed because I feel I could face some form of retaliation. I wonder if you could do some investigative reporting and publish your findings to keep San Clemente’s citizens informed of threats to their health and safety. Anyway during the current Steam Generator replacement outage at Unit 2, I overheard some reactor engineers arguing in the SONGS cafeteria about the fact that Edison is planning to start the plant with fuel in the reactor and without performing any “Hot Functional Testing” which is a test operation of the plant without having fuel in the reactor. When the Plants were first built they were tested without fuel in the reactor and since this current overhaul is like a rebuild they should perform “Hot Functional Testing”. Currently poor craftsmanship and constant rework have placed the planned outage about a month behind schedule. Since SONGS is one of Edison’s biggest sources of revenue they want the plant back on line as soon as possible whatever it takes. I wonder if you could run this issue by the NRC and see what they think about it. Thanks.   (The current status as NRC explained to me is that the fuel has been loaded but fission has not been activated yet. Another source from SONGS said that if there was a problem with any kind of leak, it could be discovered with ?Hot Functional Testing? and could be safely resolved. With fuel activated in the reactor we could have a LOSS OF COOLANT ACCIDENT (LOCA), another term for radiation release into the environment. It was explained to me that the biggest concern was that the massive welds and various connections between the new generators and the old infrastructure could fail upon testing at full power.  It is still possible to remove the fuel rods from the pool safely and do the proper testing if we stand together and insist on this being done!)

Hello Gary,
Thanks for your update, you may have seen SCE’s news release that SONGS Unit 2 is about a month away from startup and they claim the new Steam Generators are going to be “tested”, which I think means filling the system with water and doing some ultra sound tests, but not running at normal operating temperature and pressure, without fuel, like they should. One other piece of info SCE has not released is that the new Unit 3 Steam Generators which were built in parallel with Unit 2’s, were so flawed in final testing in Japan that they had to be completely disassembled for rework, which means they will have to rush to finish them in time for the Unit 3 Outage next September.  I’ll wait to hear from you.

Hi Gary,
I got a reply from the NRC, their technical team is still evaluating. I won’t be able to make it to the SC City council meeting, but I hope you can ask Ross Ridenoure if he can absolutely guarantee the integrity of new the Steam Generators and that the startup testing will not expose new manufacturing or installation flaws that challenge nuclear safety. And speaking of challenge, remember the Space Shuttle Challenger, it was also declared “good to go”. Please keep in touch. I will continue to support public safety for San Clemente and California.
These comments were collected by someone at the plant and forwarded to me (making this 3rd hand information, but still worth considering)
My information is that?
1    ) Folks have been told they cannot walk down their clearances because the supervisor has already walked them down. (This is the procedure technicians follow when working on equipment that has been tagged to indicate power and all associated functions have been disconnected, protecting the worker and avoiding accidents.)
2    ) Craft (technicians & mechanics usually having about two years of specialized training) are using Measuring and test equipment without having the training or being qualified. They are having qualified craft check out the M&TE for them so they can use it.
3    ) Work is done on the backshift that they can’t get done on days because of too much oversight on dayshift. Supervisors are signing off work steps for the craft performing the work because the craft don’t have the training / qualification to perform the work.
4    ) Many managers have told me that there is a plan by Ross (Ridenoure, VP) to replace them all.  There is also a report from the Nuclear Oversight Board that states the same.
5    ) Two days after removing the steam generators both hooks on the crane fell to the ground making a loud crashing noise causes to this day unknown. I obtained this information from a person that had seen it first had.
6    ) I spoke to an individual that told me during the fabrication of one of the canister for storing spent fuel they lost FME (Foreign Material Exclusion) control. The canister was filled with rain water and debris, it was flushed but no notification was written to document the loss of FME and cleanliness nor were any of the internals removed for inspection.
7    ) Craft and managers are scared to report concerns to the NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission).
8    ) The nuclear safety concern program is not confidential and no one trusts it. The manager of the NSC (Nuclear Safety Concern) no longer reports to a corporate officer as he did in the past. This greatly reduces the independence of the position and inhibits that manager from doing a complete investigation. It has been documented that the NSC program was in trouble and ineffective prior to this move. Now it is basically useless.
9    ) Replacing Bechtel with Shaw was not for financial reasons or better quality. It was to get a workforce that will not raise concerns. It was reported that one of the top managers, Doug Bouder made the statement during a senior management staff meeting that they must get rid of all of these people raising safety concerns.
10    ) Ross (Ridenoure, VP) does not have an ‘open door policy’. You must make an appointment two days in advance with a specific agenda and you must be accompanied by your manager.

11    ) The culture has changed dramatically since Ross came in and hired eight new Directors all from different power plants and has little or no knowledge of SONGS.
12    ) We have ALWAYS had an open and collaborative work environment and an excellent safety culture prior to the last two years.

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