Security & Safety

US NRC / Regulator Takes Action Over ‘Employee Protection Violations’ At Vogtle Site

By David Dalton
22 November 2019

Regulator Takes Action Over ‘Employee Protection Violations’ At Vogtle Site
The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued a notice of violation to a former Southern Nuclear Company manager and a confirmatory order to Southern Nuclear for actions against contract employees who raised safety concerns at the Vogtle-3 and -4 construction site in Georgia.

The NRC concluded the former manager, Mark Rauckhorst, violated the agency’s employee protection regulations by removing a contract employee from the Vogtle site in December 2015 while knowing the employee had raised concerns about design and code compliance issues. The employee’s contract was terminated in 2016.

The NRC said it had identified apparent employee protection violations by Southern Nuclear in that case and one where a different contract employee was removed from the Vogtle site in 2017.

The NRC also investigated Westinghouse, Southern Nuclear’s vendor for the Vogtle project, with regard to the case, but concluded no enforcement action was warranted for Westinghouse.

In May 2019 the sent a letter to Mr Rauckhorst offering a mediated settlement. When an agreement could not be reached the agency held a conference with Mr Rauckhorst in September before concluding the violation occurred.

Mr Rauckhorst now has 30 days to respond to the notice of violation. Southern Nuclear was also offered a mediated settlement and the confirmatory order enforces the results.

Southern Nuclear has committed to several actions, including maintaining a review process to ensure protected activity is considered when an employee faces action such as being fired. The company also committed to improve nuclear safety culture at the site.

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