October 29, 1999
Massey seeks to shift focus
By Bill Bartleman
Jimmy Massey said he stepped down as projects manager of cleanup operations at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant to shift the focus away from his tenure and toward the actual work of cleaning up the plant for the U.S. Department of Energy.
Bechtel Jacobs President Joe Nemec announced late Thursday that Massey will be replaced by Gordon Dover, who has extensive experience in nuclear operations and environmental remediation for Bechtel Jacobs. The change will be effective Monday.
"This is the best decision and the right thing to do," Massey said in an interview. "There has been too much attention directed at my tenure at the site. It has distracted from our work. This is not a surprise. Things have been tough for quite a while."
Massey will continue as a senior manager for Bechtel Jacobs and eventually will be assigned to the company's headquarters in Oak Ridge, Tenn. In the short term, he will remain in Paducah and help take corrective actions that are in response to a DOE investigation critical of Bechtel Jacobs' oversight of cleanup operations and some safety procedures.
Massey has worked at the plant in various jobs since 1973 and has been projects manager since April 1, 1998, when Bechtel Jacobs replaced Lockheed Martin Energy Systems as the lead contractor for DOE's environmental management. He also worked for Martin Marietta and Union Carbide Corp., past operators of the plant.
Before switching to Bechtel Jacobs, he was Lockheed Martin's project site manager.
Massey said news stories describing criticism of the cleanup operations at times have focused on him. At two congressional hearings, including one earlier this week in Washington, there was criticism from senators that although companies involved in cleanup and management of the plant have changed, the managers have not.
"It has just gotten to the point that there is too much focus on my 26-year tenure," Massey said. "That focus needs to be removed and get the focus on the work that needs to be done."
Massey also drew sharp criticism for an internal e-mail message that he sent to Bechtel Jacobs workers on Sept. 8 regarding a one-day work stand-down ordered by Energy Secretary Bill Richardson so that safety procedures could be reviewed.
After describing activities related to the work stoppage, Massey wrote: "More to come. I still have season tickets to the circus for sale if anyone ... still needs one."
A copy of the message was leaked to reporters and was included in documents presented to the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the House Commerce Committee that held a hearing Sept. 22 in Washington.
The note was criticized by U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland, whose district includes southern Ohio and the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant. Strickland was concerned that Bechtel Jacobs was not serious about safety concerns.
At the hearing, Nemec apologized and said "the statement by Mr. Massey was an inappropriate statement."
Nemec praised Massey on Tuesday for his tenure. "Jimmy is a valuable member of our organization, and I will be using his talents as a senior manager as we strengthen our operations throughout the company," Nemec said.
Dover has worked for Bechtel Jacobs for 18 years. A company news release said he has worked on cleanup projects at other DOE nuclear facilities.