Whistle Blowers Article

Whistles and SONGS – Not exactly music to your ears

Whistles and SONGS – Not exactly music to your ears
Whistle blowers are a unique breed. Take Harry Markopolos for example. For nine years he tried to warn the authorities and investors about Bernard Madoff and his giant Ponzi scheme. Diligence and a strong moral sense drove his quest, in spite of fear for his own personal safety. Perhaps the most famous insider was Jeffrey Wigand, who took on the tobacco industry. Wigand paid dearly for going public, having to endure lawsuits, countersuits, and an exhaustive smear campaign orchestrated by the tobacco industry. Now we have our own whistle-blowers from San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, who claim to be under similar pressures. They have put their careers, reputations and life-long friendships on the line to bring their concerns for our safety out into the open.
I attended the Nuclear Regulatory Commission?s public hearing on November 5th to become better informed about the changes taking place at the power plant. There have been a series of safety violations over the past four years blamed on human error. Although the NRC admits that many of these problems still persist, they have allowed work to proceed on retrofitting Unit Two with two new generators. It was alarming that this existing employee performance issue was further compounded now with the introduction of another 1000 temporary workers assigned to this task. When the whistle-blowers gave their own testimony I became even more concerned at just how bad the situation might actually be.

Workmen are reporting a culture of cover-up and a fear of retaliation amongst employees who report any safety incidents, according to Rick Busnardo and Mike Mason, two long-term supervisors at the plant, who boldly confronted the NRC and SCE with their insider?s view. Another attendee captured Busnardo?s testimony on video, (and added some of his own commentary), which is posted at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zP9vgNWFk6o. It is definitely worth watching to judge for yourself. Regardless of how you might feel about nuclear energy in general, the situation at our local plant is crying out for a strong response from local residents. It seems prudent to request that these issues be completely resolved before the critical point when the new generators in Unit Two are fired up. What can you do about it? You can begin by writing to gary@sanclementegreen.org to be added to a list of concerned citizens. We?ll keep you posted on upcoming meetings and any new developments.

To some people, the word whistle-blower suggests that you’re a tattletale or that you’re somehow disloyal. But nothing could be further from the truth. Our evolving democracy depends on heroic people in all walks of life to alert us to dangers that would otherwise go unnoticed. It is more important than ever for people to come forward with these kinds of revelations as society resets itself for a world that is changing on many fronts. We should honor those who risk it all for the benefit of others by taking heed of their warnings and applauding their courage. We should also be prepared to do the same ourselves. How tragic it would be if some disaster could have been prevented if we had only listened or spoken up.

This column marks the end of my first year of writing for the SC Times. I just want to take the opportunity to thank Norb Garret for inviting me to be part of such a great local paper. It?s been an honor and a privilege, and I hope I have served the community well. I?ll continue to do my best to bring you many more ?green? topics worth reading.

During this generous season for gifting, please remember that shopping locally and buying goods of lasting value is vital to a sustainable community. Happy Holidays from your friends at San Clemente Green!

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