Texas Radiation Online- Nuclear Power Plants in Texas
Texas Nuclear Power Plants

This section primarily looks at just Texas power plants.
If you require an overview of how power plants operate, please click here.

[note: it has been a while since we have had time to update the news items at the top of this section. More news will be added sometime shortly. The news items below illustrate that this sort of repetition of problems at these plants continues to this day, but also the manner in which the media has covered these issues.]


STNP News:
In 2003, Unit 1 reactor at South Texas Nuclear Project was shut down after an inspection of the reactor vessel found a coolant leak during refueling operations. Loss of coolant is a serious risk of a core meltdown. Corrosion substantial to cause leakage indicates interior deterioration beyond simple remediation. During repairs, the Unit 2 reactor remained online. Plant operators added a weld to the reactor vessel, like a metallic band-aide, which was not only discouraged, but stated to be dangerous way of addressing the problem- that in the event of a loss-of-cooling accident, there would be less notice to allow operators to prevent a full-scale meltdown.
     •  Here are some NY Times and Houston Chronicle articles, plus the NRC event report

     •  Here is the section at the NRC website dedicated to this incident at STNP

More recently on Feb. 9 2005, Unit 2 reactor was shut down due to another cooling-water leak. Although a problem with Unit 2 was discovered earlier in the week, it was only found on Feb. 9th that a leaky weld connecting a 3/4-inch pipe to a valve in the reactor's coolant system was releasing superheated water in the form of steam at a rate of 1/10 of a gallon per minute. (1 gallon every 10 minutes or 6 gallons per hour). As in 2003, this reactor coolant liquid is under intense pressure to prevent it from boiling, making contact with the reactor core itself.
[Houston Chronicle, Associated Press, Ft. Worth Star Telegram]



Comanche Peak News: Comanche Peak's Unit 1 reactor was acting up alot in late 2002- early 2003, just as South Texas' reactor was having trouble. Starting on Sept. 28 2002, it was shut down when water was found leaking at a rate of about half a cup a minute from a tube carrying radioactive water to the steam generators. A subsequent check found corrosion in 667 other tubes in Unit 1, which had not yet started to leak. Each of the two reactors utilize more than 18,000 tubes which circulate radioactive, reactor-heated water from the reactor vessel to steam generators that make steam to turn power plant turbines.

A report from a NRC special inspection team found that three incidents of human error led to the steam generator tube leak, which should have been noticed and repaired as early as April 2001, when tests during a routine shutdown showed problems with the tube. In two of the mistakes were excused by the NRC. In the third incident, a plant employee reviewing computer data failed to report a marginal problem that later led to the leak.

A report by Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspectors said radiation monitors inside the plant's Unit 1 sounded alarms after recording high radiation readings on Sept. 26. Radiation levels peaked six more times before operators shut down the reactor two days later. The reactor was scheduled for a refueling shutdown and equipment inspection starting the following week.

Despite attempts to get the reactor running again, it was shut down 3 times in less than a month for other unrelated problems. Unit 1 resumed operation Nov. 15 but was then shut down Nov. 23 because of a potential valve problem. The reactor was back in service two days later. But on Nov. 30, the reactor shut down again when a blown fuse triggered a safety mechanism that caused a control rod to drop into the reactor's core. On Dec. 3, the reactor was taken off-line yet again, this time to repair an electric coil. Plant workers found that the coil failure was caused by a leaky weld in a canopy seal at the control rod mechanism. A document at the NRC website reports that 2 lbs (1 kg) of boric acid crystals were found evaporated all over the control rod mechanism and reactor vessel head!

Dallas Morning News reported that James Kelley, TXU vice president, said an economic analysis (not safety concerns) would show whether TXU should keep repairing damaged tubes or replace all four of Unit 1's steam generators, which would cost a total of $150 million. The plant is unlikely to be fined or otherwise penalized, said Dwight Chamberlain, director of the division of reactor safety at the NRC's Arlington office. Despite this huge deposit of boron evaporate of two pounds, the media and the NRC sensationalized South Texas Nuclear Project's tiny leak of a few grams, and ignored the Comanche Peak incident. The incident at South Texas has been given a full investigation with documentation, while the Comanche Peak incidents are only mentioned in a few NRC documents. Comanche Peak operators remain unpenalized, and the shutdown was listed as merely a "refueling outage" (refering only to the original shutdown, and not numerous mishaps during the attempt to restart.


Plants in Texas: Overview
There are four commercial pressurized water reactors in Texas at two power plants run by the company Texas Utilities (TXU). Comanche Peak resides in Somerville County 80 miles from downtown Dallas, and South Texas Project resides in Matagorda County 90 miles from Houston. Both plants sit atop major aquifers, Comanche Peak is above the Trinity aquifer, and South Texas Project is above the Gulf Coast aquifer.

Nuclear power plants have become a topic of renewed public criticism since September 11th, and much of what people had been saying for years about accidents and physical vulnerabilities of the plants resurfaced when comments were made by Al Qaeda that nuclear power plants were intended targets for attack. In addition, Texas is widely perceived as "Bush Country" which gives the state a special symbolic significance. Analysts have stated that in order to achieve maximum effect, an attack would be made on the spent fuel ponds, which would create more devastating effects.

The first piece of evidence to look at is a 1982 study by the NRC, Calculation of Reactor Accident Consequences, also known as CRAC-2, which was conducted at Sandia Labs, and published by US Congress. The data used was for a class-9, or worse case scenario meltdown of an merely an individual reactor at the plant, and are based on 1982 population data and dollars. The study revealed devastating risks of a meltdown of merely a single reactor at both Texas plants: tens of thousands of injured, over 5,000 deaths and hundreds of billions of dollars in damages, but this study only considered a thirty-mile radius, and did not incorporate meteorological precipitation or fallout. It also did not account for onsite spent fuel, which authors of the Reactor Safety Study stated would increase the number of these early fatalities by a factor of 3 to 4. The most recent estimate for an attack upon on-site spent fuel at US plants has concluded that burning spent fuel would spread contamination across an area anywhere from 8 to 70 times larger than the 1986 meltdown of Chernobyl. Economic and fatality estimates are limited under CRAC-2, partially due to the limited 30-mile radius considered under the study. Transportation bottlenecks during evacuation were not considered, nor were health care and other costs. Long term effects of radiation exposure were also not calculated, nor was fallout from the accident, within or outside of the 30-mile study area. In the chart below is the data for Texas power plants from the CRAC-2 study, with other basic information.

Price Anderson, the federal reactor insurance subsidy, only provides $8 billion in coverage for a given accident. The costs of Chernobyl have been estimated above $350 billion, and the Texas reactors were estimated in the CRAC-2 study to require between $112-117 billion each. The taxpayer's liability under Price Anderson is significant, and shows $8 billion to be a small contribution. Plus, due to the existence of Price Anderson, insurance providers refuse to cover damages sustained in the event of a nuclear accident.

Some proponents claim that nuclear power reduces air emissions, and ignore all pollution produced in fuel production. Uranium mining, fuel enrichment and plant construction contribute significant amounts of air pollution, in the form of CO2 and CFCs. Mining is one of the most CO2 intensive industrial operations and as demand for uranium grows CO2 emissions are expected to rise as core grades decline. Depending on the reactor and fuel grade, from 34-60 grams of CO2 are emitted per generated kilowatt hour. In total, a nuclear power station of standard size (1,250MW operating at 6,500 hours per year) indirectly emits between 376,000 million and 1,300,000 million tons of CO2 per year. During the uranium enrichment process, large amounts of freon are utilized to cool equipment and uranium hexafluoride in the plants, and much escapes to the atmosphere through leaks in piping. This freon was purchased and inventoried prior to a ban on the import and production of CFCs by the Montreal Protocol and Clean Air Act amendments of 1990, which allowed industry to use existing supplies. The two enrichment plants in Portsmouth, Ohio, and Paducah, Kentucky, released 818,000 pounds of freon in 1999 alone. The enrichment process accounts for a huge 88% of US industrial CFC emissions, and an estimated 14% of all CFC-114 emissions worldwide. Pollution from nuclear power plants in discussed at some length in the other section, Not Clean: Nuclear Power Pollution.

"It is not too much to expect that our children will enjoy in their homes electrical energy too cheap to meter," Atomic Energy Agency, Chairman Lewis Strauss, 1954.

As they operate, hundreds of millions of dollars each year are sucked out of our city budgets each year to pay for utility partnerships with nuclear power plant operators. These utilities are burdened with billions in plant cost overruns, which is passed onto the ratepayer. When the City of Austin joined STNP in 1973, plant was said to cost $1 billion, with the city's share at $161 million. This cost has ballooned to $6.2 billion with the city's share reaching over $1 billion. Austin Energy, a 16% partner in South Texas Project, budgeted $128 million a year to the plant by 1995, amounting to 40% of the ratepayer's bill- and these numbers have also become inflated over the years. Nuclear power has proved to neither be cheap, nor clean, and should be replaced with wind power which brings in very inexpensive megawatts to west Texas. This has been proven to generate State income rather than allow plant operators to suck it away. The power distribution grid also needs to be extended to these west Texas wind farms, to bring this renewable energy source to cities such as Houston, Dallas-Ft Worth, Austin and others. Decommissioning these nuclear plants will remove the financial and security liability in addition to solving the problem of long-lived nuclear waste. An overview of these alternatives to nukes, and the benefits they have already proved to Texas specifically are discussed at some length in the other section, What are the Alternatives?.

Plant:
Comanche Peak
South Texas
Reactor:
Unit 1
Unit 2
Unit 1
Unit 2
NRC Docket Number:
050-00445
050-00446
050-00498
050-00499
License Type and Number:
OL-FP, NPF-87
OL-FP, NPF-89
05000498
05000499
Reactor Containment Type:
PWR-DRYAMB
PWR-DRYAMB
PWR-DRYAMB
PWR-DRYAMB
Reactor Design (NSSS):
WEST 4LP
WEST 4LP
WEST 4LP
WEST 4LP
Construction Permit Issued:
12-19-1974
12-22-1975
Date Online:
April 1990
April 1993
March 1988
March 1989
License Expiration:
02-08-2030
02-02-2033
08-20-2027
12-15-2028
Licensed MWt:
3,411
3,411
3,800
2,700
Power Capacity:
1,150 net MWe
1,150 net MWe
1,250 net MWe
1,250 net MWe
Electricity Produced in 2001:
94.2 billion kWh
8.90 billion kWh
10.32 billion kWh
9.52 billion kWh
2001 Average Capacity Factor:
93.5%
88.3%
94.3%
86.9%
NRC Accident Projections: CRAC2 Study
Peak Early Fatalities (scaled):
1,200
1,200
18,000
18,000
Peak Early Injuries (scaled):
14,000
14,000
10,000
10,000
Peak Cancer Deaths (scaled):
4,800
4,800
4,000
4,000
Cost of Damages in 1980 Dollars (scaled):
$117 Billion
$117 Billion
$112 Billion
$104 Billion
Peak Fatal Radius:
25 miles
25 miles
25 miles
25 miles
Peak Injury Radius:
35 miles
35 miles
35 miles
35 miles
Taken from data released to the US House of Representatives Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs and the Subcommittee on Oversight by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission from: 1. NUREG/CR-2723, SAND82-1110, "Estimates of the Financial Consequences of Reactor Accidents", D.R. Strip, Sandia National Laboratory (DRAFT), and 2. CRAC2 computer printouts.

These studies were performed by Sandia National Laboratory under contract to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (1982). The figures provided here are based on a core melt down accident in which the reactor containment is breached directly to the atmosphere and all installed safety mechanisms fail.
Owner:
Texas Utilities (TXU)
Reliant-HL&P (30.8%); San Antonio City Public Service Board (28%); Central Power & Light (25.2%); Austin Electric(16%)*
Operator:
Texas Utilities (TXU)
STP Nuclear Operating Company (TXU)
*note: these ownership percentages changed in 2004, and will be updated shortly.


Comanche Peak

Repeated violations and cost overruns have plagued TXU at both sites, and both plants have been sited for problems during and after construction. Although construction of Comanche Peak took 20 years, the construction was rushed, and the NRC repeatedly fined TXU for falsifying blueprints and specs to pass inspections in a rush to get reactor online. This is but one example, as thousands of NRC violations have occurred at Comanche Peak, and cost overruns reaching tens of billions of dollars- a burden forced upon the ratepayers. It has been concluded that Comanche Peak was constructed with an ever-changing blueprint, and that these billions have been spent specifically to make the plant comply with federal safety requirements.

In 1986, NRC inspectors had found many problems in auditing the plant. The reactor vessel was found to not be installed according to engineering specifications. In addition, almost zero documentation was kept on the installation for quality control purposes, and it was found that the utility failed to identify these problems during the 14 years of construction. During this time, the utility was required to regulate the construction by conducting quality assurance audits, which they failed to do. In addition, inadequate control over critical records were identified, with thousands of document packages shipped offsite without oversight. Along with these problems, 30 other violations were reported in draft inspection reports and later removed under suspicious circumstances. The NRC's Office of Inspector and Auditor (OIA) stated that "(NRC) Region IV management harrassed and intimidated inspectors to pressure them to downgrade or delete proposed inspection findings" presumably in order to ensure that the plant went online sooner. [for more, see the section "Corruption at NRC Region IV"]

When construction began in 1974, TXU stated that the plant would be online to the Dallas-Fort Worth Area in 1980 at a cost of $779 million. It was almost $11 billion and 16 years later on April 3, 1990, that the first reactor came online. TXU has been forced to redesign Comanche Peak during and after its construction, reportedly adding more safety-related modifications than any other nuclear power plant in the country. This, in turn, has led to skyrocketing cost-overruns and a campaign of harassment meant to silence whistleblowers and expedite the building process when changes appeared too costly or time consuming. In it's first seven months, the plant had to be shut down on four separate occasions for repair work.

By 1992, Comanche Peak was still not fully completed, and was already faced with:

- $10 Billion in cost overruns "one-third the taxpayers are to absorb"

- charges of collusion between NRC and Texas Utilities;

- documented cash settlements paid by Texas Utilities to former employees, apparently to silence whistleblowers and public interest groups The NRC originally condoned these settlements, then reversed it's position after a Senate subcommittee rebuked the agency in 1989;*

- workers repeatedly exposed to toxins, radiation and intimidation in the workplace;

- a list of thousands of non-conforming violations cited as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines levied by the NRC.

Continuing concerns have been raised over:

- quality control at the plant;

- electrical wiring, specifically wiring with separation problems, which causes cables to short out or melt;

- the viability of the reactor shield;

- the fire safety problems;

- pipe supports meant to hold up the thousands of feet of piping responsible for conveying both radioactive water and coolant to and from the core (an accident, in this case, might lead most quickly to meltdown)

- the chronic falsification of documents to pass NRC inspections


South Texas Project - Mismanagement, Cost Overruns, Safety Problems
The South Texas plant has become a financial nightmare to city ratepayers primarily due to construction cost overruns. When the City of Austin joined the project in 1973, plant was said to cost $1 billion, with the city's share at $161 million. This cost has ballooned to $6.2 billion with the city's share reaching $1 billion. Thus, Austin's 1997 annual budget for the plant had reached $186 million, and even though Austin owns 16% of STP, about 40% of the customer's bills were allocated for the plant. Quite valid concerns have been raised over a severe loss of income from customers who switch to cheaper competitors which could leave Austin and other utilities that own nuclear plants with a 'stranded investment' or debt on plants that can't pay.

In 1987, a Washington watchdog group reviewed complaints from 3 dozen present or former employees at the project. These included defects in instruments and controls, problems in the heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems, poor soil compaction, falsification and failure to complete required quality assurance or quality control documents. Workers told of safety related defects in engineering, harassment of employees who complained, thefts of materials, and price-fixing scams by subcontractors.

Since going online, South Texas Project has been plagued with operational failures. In April 1988, dealuminization of fittings in a service system caused leaks. May 1988, a test of the backup power generators had unexpected results, when a steam generator feedwater pump, the only one of three operating at the time, sheared off at the shaft, throwing a piece of the shaft out of the building and into the station yard. Damage was said by the NRC to be so great that the cause of the failure may never be fully known. Problems also occurred with a number of circuit breakers, and Unit 1 had to be shut down for some time.

January 1989, a fire caused a leak and loss of hydrogen cooling and a reactor had to be scrammed. In 1990, a coolant supply line ruptured resulting in shutting down a reactor again. In March of 1991, all of the fuel injector nozzles were found on one of the units were found to be cracked and had to be replaced. In December 1991, a pressurizer spray valve on the coolant loop failed to open causing a rapid decrease in reactor pressure. After scramming the reactor yet again, it's found that a loose nut for a support caused the nozzle on the valve to fall off.
By far the largest upset occurred in late December of 1992, when a series of pump malfunctions began at both units. By February 1993, five pump problems were reported. After investigating, the NRC fined HL&P $500,000 for various violations of safety rules, placed the plant on its "watch list" and issued a report citing the facility for ineffective management, inadequate staffing, poor maintenance, and significant performance deficiencies. South Texas Project was then forced to shut down for 14 months.

On Feb 22 1994, the City of Austin sued Houston Light and Power for $120 million in damages resulting from the shutdown, including the $51 million in higher electricity costs for Austin customers. In 1996, the city settled the suit with HL&P for $20 million with an agreement that an new independent operator would take over the plant, Texas Utilities (TXU).

Other safety problems began to arise. Throughout the industry, in an attempt to achieve lower production costs, nuclear utilities began attempting to use fuel rods which contained higher percentages of Uranium-235. Fuel rods are measured in power concentration, or "burnup" by Megawatt-Day per kg (MWD/kg) of fuel which reflects this percentage. Ten years ago, a burn-up of 25 MWD/kg fuel was normal, but now many Pressurized Water Reactors (PWRs) reach burn-ups from 40-60 MWD/kg fuel.

For the plant owner, this might offer economic advantages, but it also raises risks, and causes serious safety problems. A higher burn-up leads to more radiation, which leads to more corrosion and deformation of the fuel rods (swelling, bowing or rupture). Deformed fuel rods can hinder the flow of cooling water, and also cause control rods stick between the fuel rods. Control rods regulate the reactivity of the fuel by absorbing neutrons which would otherwise lead to more fissions and to higher reactivity. When the reactivity increases, the control rods are inserted deeper into the core, so sticking control rods could eventually lead to a core melt in cases of Reactivity Insertion Accidents.

In 1996, this caused problems at STP specifically. Seven control rods in unit 1 didn't properly drop into the core after plant trips in December and January, respectively. The rods were housed in 17"x17" assemblies with burnups exceeding 42 MWD/kg of fuel.

March 1999, problems began to appear with the emergency diesel generator, when the output circuit breaker failed to close. In July 1999 the same backup power generator was inoperable for 3 days.

["Watchdog Group Plans Probe of STNP," Houston Post, Jan 21, 1987]
["Malfunctioning US plants," WISE News Communique, December 3, 1993, http://www.antenna.nl/wise/403/3930.html]
["Higher burnup - bigger problems," WISE News Communique, March 14, 1997, http://www.antenna.nl/wise/468/4659.html]
["City Suing Operator Of Nuclear Plant," Austin American Statesman, February 23, 1994]
["New Management At The Nuke," Austin American Statesman, October 5, 1997]
["Amnesty Irrational," James P. Riccio, Public Citizen, Critical Mass Energy Project, August 1999, Appendix C]
[NRC website, USGS website]
["The Nuclear Monitor" (US) 27/6/88, WISE NC 298, 23/9/88]
["Emergency Diesel Generator Defects at US Nuclear Plants," http://www.mothersalert.org/generators.html, 09-2002]



Worker Intimidation and Threats
Both South Texas and Comanche Peak have become famous for the harshness of their intimidation of whistleblowers who had raised safety complaints. These allegations involve both the owners of the plants, and the contractors involved in construction and operations. (Houston's Brown and Root had been working both CP and STP since 1974, and Ebasco Constructors Inc. of New Jersey, had taken over the construction of STP in 1982 after Brown and Root was fired.)

In 1984 Doby Hatley, a supervisor at Comanche Peak, was fired after going to NRC with reports of being pressured by bosses to falsify blueprints and specs to pass inspection in a rush to get reactor online. Hatley stated, "We had prenotification that the NRC would come- how that information came to us I don't know- but we would change [construction] documents to match what we had in the field," said Hatley. "After going to the NRC, I was fired; there were threats against my life inside and outside of the plant. They blew up my car twice and lit my house on fire. I went into hiding for two years."

Thayron Hatley, Doby Hatley's son, was later also a supervisor at Comanche Peak. In 1990, he reported to NRC that fire safety logs had been falsified. Internal TXU memos corroborated that 50% of the memos were confirmed falsified and the NRC fined TXU $50,000. Thayron, after cited for insubordination, reprimanded and demoted, left the plant.

In 1989, a Subcommittee on Nuclear Regulations investigation found that TXU gave a nuclear builder $15,000 and his attorney $20,000 to keep quiet about problems at the Comanche Peak. In Millstone, $15,000 was offered by North East Utilities to John Delcore, a worker who exposed poor safety practices, to silence him. The subcommittee also cited numerous scenarios at both Texas plants where the NRC had not only looked the other way when settlements were given to whistleblowers to keep quiet, but also pressured it's own investigators "to downgrade negative findings" about the plant. About the settlements, Committee's Chairperson Senator John Breaux said that "it turns the licensing process into a sham, if witnesses can be paid money to withhold their testimony." [also see the section "Corruption at NRC Region IV"]

Joseph Maktal, a Comanche Peak whistleblower who testified to the Senate subcommittee, had signed a settlement agreement in 1987 and was subsequently prohibited from talking about the safety allegations he had made. He said that his life has been repeatedly threatened, and according to his attorney, he was run down by a car in Colorado on the way to testify to the subcommittee.

On 60 Minutes in 1990, it was reported that several thousand ex-Comanche Peak workers had been exposed to asbestos contained in paint once used at the facility. Some were plagued with throat tumors, chronic nerve damage and chronic diarrhea. Linda Porter was interviewed, who worked as a paint-coating supervisor during the '80s, and says some workers, including herself, were punished for insubordination by being exposed to toxins or radiation for inappropriate periods of time.

In November 1992, 2000 workers from both Comanche Peak and South Texas Project who had filed personal injury lawsuits since 1989 joined bring attention to their cases. Many of them became ill years prior, but did not learn until later that their illnesses were work-related. These included painters, laborers, electricians, welders, insulators, and heavy equipment operators and others. Most of them described their jobs as high pressure jobs where respiratory protection was poor or nonexistent, where people who complained or asked too many questions were intimidated or laid off and where federal hazard-communication laws were ignored. "You've got leukemia, youve got throat growths, that are the equivalent of tumors,youve got lung problems, youve got neurological problems." said David Leibowitz, a San Antonio attorney who represented many of the workers.

In Nov 1993, a court exonerated one of the plant's supervisors who had been fired for refusing to join a conspiracy to falsify safety documents. However, these incidents continued to occur. At South Texas, a 1996 discrimination case reported to the NRC forced TXU to pay $200,000 compensation to a worker, and in June 1998, a supervisor and an engineer reported to the NRC discrimination for reporting safety concerns.




Corruption at NRC Region IV
In 1986, NRC inspectors at Region IV reported to the Office of Investigation that they had been intimidated and harrassed by their superiors for reporting problems at Comanche Peak. Between 1984 and 1986 inspections and audits were conducted to determine the extent of quality assurance and quality control breakdowns, and related engineering and technical deficiencies. Significant problems were found which potentially affected safety and license eligibility of the plant, as well as the health and safety of the public. It was the inspector's job to identify construction violations or deviations from engineering commitments.

Such violations were cited in the drafts of inspection reports, but too frequently, when these drafts were reviewed by Tom Westerman (Chief of Region IV's Comanche Peak Task Force) and Division Director Eric Johnson, the inspectors were pressured to remove references to violations or to downgrade them to less serious matters. At Comanche Peak, at least 30 reports were downgraded or dropped. The inspectors initially refused to change their reports, and when they did, they were harassed and intimidated by Johnson and Westerman. On at least one occassion, Westerman changed the inspection report himself to drop the violations, and used the signed cover sheet from the draft, of which the inspectors were never told and learned of months later. One supervisor named Dorwin Hunter was transfered from his position and demoted for his strong enforcement attitude toward Comanche Peak.

H. Shannon Phillips, who was a Senior Resident Inspector at Comanche Peak, was told by Westerman to "quit digging," and was put through an intense five-hour meeting during which Westerman pressured him over negative inspection findings. Phillips became so offended and distraught that he took his concerns to one of the NRC Commissioners in March 1986. He stated that he had been intimidated almost to the point where he believed he could not write independent draft reports based on his inspections.

Phillips was aware of the NRC's Office of Inspector and Auditor (OIA), which had a bad reputation among agency employees, and he doubted whether they would be willing or able to thoroughly investigate his concerns about the way Region IV's management handled issues at Comanche Peak. At Phillips' request, these allegations were refered to OIA Assistant Director for Investigations, George Mulley, who was a professional investigator with a reputation for quality work.

Mulley's field-work lasted five months (April-July 1986) and involved interviews with numerous inspectors, consultants, and Region IV managers. Due to the serious nature of the allegations, and to ensure that the scope of the invesstigation would not be narrowed by management, Mulley decided to do all of the field work himself. However, midpoint in the investigation, Mulley learned that the Administrator of Region IV intended to remove Phillips from the Comanche Peak site, and believed that such a move would constitute a blatant reprisal for Phillips' initiating the investigation. To prevent this, and any possible "chilling effect" that the action could have on the other witnesses, Mulley approached Victor Stello, NRC Executive Director of Operations. This stopped reprisal against Phillips, but also sacrificed the confidentiality of the investigation.

Thereafter, Director Stello and OIA Director Sharon Connelly (Mulley's superior) put continuous pressure on Mulley to wrap up his field work and prepare the report. Mulley felt he had no choice but to limit the investigation to Phillip's original allegations, and ignore numerous discoveries such as the matter of Dorwin Hunter's treatment. This pressure caused Mulley to request a meeting with NRC Chairman Lando Zech, who instructed Mulley to take his time and do the job right. Mulley finished his investigation and delivered his draft report in July. It then was subjected to massive editing and rewriting by Connelly and four OIA auditors. Never in the six years that Mulley had been an investigator had any of his reports been subjected to this sort of editing process. Connelly indicated that it was done because she knew the report would receive great scrutiny and generate negative publicity.

Ultimately, the final report differed from Mulley's report in both style and substance, and focused on the technical concerns raised by inspectors (an area outside of the expertise of the OIA) rather than misconduct of specific Region IV managers and Region IV's lax enforcement attitude. Negative findings concerning Region IV management were in fact removed from the body of the report, and never included in any other communication to the Commissioners. In fact, the report had been reduced from over 3000 pages of incriminating evidence on a wide range of NRC inspection and program activities throughout Region IV to a 47-page summary statement focused on Comanche Peak alone.

When the report was finally released in November, Mulley was at Region IV. To Mulley's dismay, not only did the final report identify individuals who cooperated in the investigation, but it was also widely distributed throughout the agency, which was highly unusual. This included all of the managers at Region IV. Witnesses who cooperated with Mulley complained that they felt angry and betrayed.

No action was taken by the NRC to correct management problems at Region IV, and many of the allegations continued. Of the report, Connelly claimed "no criminal violations were identified". Phillips was removed from his inspection activities, and subjected to continuing pressure from his superiors. For the first time in his career at the NRC, his evaluation included remarks that his work was unsatisfactory. These remarks were removed after Phillips filed a grievance through his union representative.

[NRC records; EA-96-133, EA-96-136, EA-97-341]
["Corruption Riddles NRC," Power Line, Vol. 12 No. 5, April-June 1987]
[NRC, Report of Investigation, Allegations of Misconduct by Region IV Management With Respect to Comanche Peak Steam Electric Station. Including case history for April 9 Hearing, Re: Mulley and Phillips, 1987.]
[Interview, 60 Minutes, CBS, March 8, 1990]
["2000 Workers From Nuke Plants File Injury Lawsuits," Austin American Statesman, November 2, 1992]
["Ethics and Safety Suffer Meltdown at Texas Nuclear Power Plant," Michael Paterniti, In These Times, April 8-14th, 1992]
["Radiation & Alternatives Bulletin" RadBull Aug.89; WISE-319 20/10/89]


More will continue to be added to this section to make it a complete historical account.
There are over 800 pages of individual event notification reports for both of these plants up to 2003.