NRC says it encourages open debate, will make Oconee case in judicial system
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is facing legal challenges — from outside and within — over how it has handled public information detailing regulators’ concerns about the threat the Oconee Nuclear Station faces if the Jocassee Dam were ever to fail.
And one NRC whistle-blower, who for nearly a year has alleged that the agency has unlawfully withheld public documents, says he fears reprisal by his employers.
“They have threatened to press felony charges against me,” Larry Criscione, an NRC risk-analysis engineer, told The Greenville News. “It’s certainly unsettling.”
NRC spokesman Roger Hannah said that he couldn’t comment on the personnel issue but that the agency takes reprisal concerns such as Criscione’s seriously and encourages open dialogue within its ranks. “We pride ourselves on encouraging a collaborative working environment,” Hannah said.
Two lawsuits — one by an advocacy group and another by Criscione — have been filed against the NRC alleging that the agency has violated the Freedom of Information Act in an attempt to avoid public embarrassment.
The latest suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, asks a federal judge to force the NRC to disclose documents detailing the agency’s concerns over how it has regulated Oconee’s operator over the years.
The group alleges that the NRC refused to release some records, released edited versions of others and did so citing concerns over security that the agency couldn’t prove, according to the lawsuit.
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