Fwd: Markey letter to NRC on Region IV whistleblowers
Subject: Markey letter to NRC on Region IV whistleblowers
Markey – our long time true champion of public safety- is a candidate for U.S. Senate
This letter just went out – see attached, and below for key excerpts.
Excerpt #1: Applicable to the Jan 9 upcoming NRC Commissioner’s vote on whether to accept their own technical staff’s recommendation to require external filters on vents for Mark I and Mark II boiling water reactors
“I have been long concerned by the potential impact the Commission’s failure to follow its own technical staff’s recommendations on the necessary post-Fukushima safety measures – a matter which preceded your arrival at the agency. Specifically, if NRC managers do not believe that you and your fellow Commissioners are fully committed to following the safety recommendations of its top technical staff, they may similarly feel empowered to reject the recommendations made by their inspectors, dismiss safety concerns, and retaliate against those who are making them. The available evidence appears to suggest that this has occurred at NRC’s Region IV, and that the Commission’s failure to act in response to my requests may have further emboldened an already-recalcitrant set of managers, based on recent reports to my staff made by Region IV employees.
This view is further amplified by the recent release of a survey that your November 5 response asserted would assist the Commission with its efforts to remedy any identified safety culture problems at the NRC. This survey found that the NRC was “losing significant ground on negative reactions when raising views different from senior management, supervisor and peers,” with only 49% of the nearly-3000 respondents saying that the NRC’s process for enabling such different views to be raised was effective. More than half of the respondents also indicated that they had heard of someone receiving a negative reaction from their peers or their supervisors after raising a differing view. The portion of this survey that summarized the results for Region IV, which is not public but was recently provided to me by Region IV staff, are even more alarming, indicating that Region IV personnel felt even less positive about these aspects of their jobs than NRC employees as a whole. For example, these results indicate that in Region IV, only 55% of respondents had a favorable impression of NRC’s differing professional opinion and non-concurrence processes, a drop of a staggering 12% in Region IV since the survey was last administered in 2009 and 4% lower than NRC as a whole.”
“On October 1, I wrote you again, this time detailing discussions my staff had with Region IV staff and with Mr. Joseph McMillan, Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, which made it clear that the ongoing IG investigation is not attempting to determine whether safety culture in Region IV is consistent with the tenets of NRC’s Safety Culture policy statement, which you claim in your November 5 response to support. Instead, the IG is attempting to identify whether it can definitively identify and link any specific act of professional retaliation committed by Mr. Pruett to his staff’s efforts to more aggressively oversee or enforce NRC safety regulations.
The Commission apparently does not care whether any independent examination of safety culture at Region IV ever takes place – and Region IV staff who have contacted my office have repeatedly described a worsening work environment since the Commission chose to ignore these concerns. In recent weeks, my office has been contacted by even more employees at Region IV who describe Region IV leadership as even worse than it was last spring. My staff has been told that Region IV management actively disparage both my Congressional oversight of their activities and NRC headquarters’ attempts to respond to it. These people have informed me that individuals who agree to do Region IV management’s bidding on safety-related matters are promoted, while those who question management are retaliated against.
I find the Commission’s posture exceedingly disappointing, dangerous and entirely at odds with NRC’s Safety Culture Policy Statement and its Open Collaborative Work Environment (which are described as being the means by which NRC employees who disagree with versions of documents they helped to prepare or with mission-related issues can record their concerns and have them independently reviewed and responded to).”
“A review of these sparse documents, along with previous correspondence sent to me by multiple Region IV staff who indicated that no serious search for responsive documents has taken place, demonstrates your failure to follow internal Commission procedures for the provision of documents to Members of NRC’s Oversight Committee. There is simply no plausible way that NRC’s extensive oversight of the Fort Calhoun Station involved only eight pages worth of internal documents, emails, letters, telephone logs or memos.”
 These are described as being the means by which NRC employees who disagree with versions of documents they helped to prepare or with mission-related issues can record their concerns and have them independently reviewed and responded to.