United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission
 Office of Public Affairs
 Washington, DC 20555
 Phone 301-415-8200  Fax 301-415-2234

 (Thursday, January 28, 1999)


 Chairman Shirley Ann Jackson of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission today
 named an administrative law judge, Acting Chief Judge Paul Bollwerk of
 the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel, to head an independent
 review of the dismissal by Northeast Utilities in 1996 of  employees of
 the Millstone nuclear power plants in Waterford, Conn.

 After looking into complaints, the NRC*s Office of Inspector General
 raised a number of questions about how the NRC handled concerns that two
 or more of those workers may have been let go because they raised safety
 concerns. The IG report concluded that the NRC staff at first found that
 such discrimination probably had occurred, but then reversed itself.

 In early January, Chairman Jackson directed the staff to conduct an
 internal review to address several of the issues raised in the Inspector
 General*s report. That response is being released today.

 By instituting an independent review, the Commission will be provided a
 second perspective on the dismissals, on how the matter was investigated,
 and on the decision not to take enforcement action against Northeast
 Utilities and one of its senior executives.

 Judge Bollwerk reports administratively to the Chairman of the NRC, but
 like the Inspector General, he is entirely independent of the rest of the
 NRC staff.  He is to be assisted in his review*due to be completed by
 March 12*by experts drawn both from inside and outside the NRC.  None
 will have had prior involvement in the Millstone cases under scrutiny,
 nor do they report to NRC managers previously involved in reviewing the

 The independent inquiry is to assess the merits of the cases addressed in
 the Inspector General*s report, along with a separate, but similar case
 at Millstone.  It is also to formulate lessons learned from the NRC
 staff*s handling of the cases and offer recommendations for improving
 investigative and enforcement procedures.

 After studying the conclusions and recommendations both of the Bollwerk
 review and of the NRC staff*s internal report, Chairman Jackson will then
 determine how broad-based a set of adjustments may be warranted in the
 agency*s investigation and enforcement functions.  If that course is
 pursued, the Commission will decide whether to seek the views of outside
 experts and other federal agencies in that effort.