The Paducah Sun

December 22, 1999

$88,000 fine vs. USEC advised

Staff report

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has proposed an $88,000 fine after finding that USEC Inc. discriminated against a manager who raised safety issues at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant.

The manager, not unidentified by the NRC, was transferred in August 1998 from manager of quality systems to a non-managerial position in the training department after he expressed concerns about the quality assurance program, the NRC stated in a news release.

Although USEC claimed the transfer was based on job performance, an investigation and subsequent information led the NRC to determine that the transfer was based partly on the man's raising concerns about quality assurance, the release said.

The man told his supervisor that the plant was not fulfilling all requirements of an industry standard for quality assurance. He also said the plant program would be hurt by the quality systems staff's having to do other work at the plant.

The NRC completed the probe in March and met with USEC officials in June for a predecisional enforcement conference. USEC told the NRC in October that it was taking extensive corrective action to help managers address employee safety concerns and encourage a "nuclear safety conscious" work environment, the NRC said.

USEC has until Jan. 19 to pay the fine or challenge it. If USEC challenges the fine and it later is imposed, the company may request a hearing.

Attempts to reach USEC spokeswoman Elizabeth Stuckle at company headquarters in Bethesda, Md., were unsuccessful Tuesday.