Contact: Marthena Cowart, POGO, (202) 347-1122, Lynne Bernabei or Dave Wachtel, Bernabei & Wachtel, PLLC, (202) 745-1942
The nuclear security officer who videotaped fellow guards sleeping on duty at Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, operated by Exelon Nuclear, sent a letter, through his attorneys, to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (“NRC”) demanding that the federal agency conduct a full investigation of Exelon Nuclear’s response to his safety violation reports, including the retaliation taken against him for revealing this problem publicly. Exelon ignored his initial reports, and Exelon and the NRC have retaliated against him after he made his complaints public on a CBS News affiliate in New York.
Kerry Beal, a security officer working for the Wackenhut Corporation, first told his supervisor about the sleeping guards in February 2007. His supervisors told him not to talk about the problem and be a team player. The former Director of Security for Wackenhut wrote to the NRC asking them to investigate the sleeping guards in March 2007. Instead of doing any investigation, the NRC referred the allegations to Exelon, which claimed there was no problem.
Mr. Beal then videotaped 10 guards sleeping in the ready room at Peach Bottom, when they should have been on duty protecting the plant. It was only after the videotape aired on WCBS in New York that the NRC did an investigation and Exelon was forced to institute corrective actions.
According to Mr. Beal, Exelon suspended him and then refused to hire him back as a security officer because of write ups in his personnel file, which were the result of retaliation by his supervisors. The NRC focused its investigation on Mr. Beal for his alleged violations of procedures for videotaping the sleeping guards, rather than on the Wackenhut and Exelon managers who consistently lied to them about the problem.
“The NRC is not doing its job to protect the public health and safety when it retaliates against the whistleblower, rather than making sure that the utility managers who terminated him are disciplined. Peach Bottom employees are going to see what happened to Kerry Beal and will refuse to come forward with any safety problems. All of Exelon’s elaborate paper plans for extra monitoring and training will be useless, if Exelon retaliates against whistleblowers, and the NRC ratifies Exelon’s actions,” said Lynne Bernabei, who along with David Wachtel, represents Mr. Beal.