Story last updated at 12:56 p.m. on Thursday, May 11, 2000

Your Views
Letters to the Editor

In re: April 5 meeting of DNFSB

To The Oak Ridger:

I would like to add to the sentiment expressed in a recent letter to the editor, on the timeliness and effectiveness of publication of letters.

Exactly a month ago the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board held what I perceived as a largely negative public meeting. I responded the following day with a letter to the DNFSB, and also submitted it as a letter to the editor.

This letter was confirmed by The Oak Ridger, and publication later promised by the outgoing editor, as soon as space allowed. This has still not happened despite a similar letter, in the same format being published a few days after the meeting. I would hope this letter receives a more timely response.

My comments to the board reflected my sense of negativism from the same, escalating in an exchange of words between the board chairman and a DOE whistleblower.

It was, and is, my opinion, that the head of a national oversight group, responsible for "independent oversight" of the Department of Energy should not have allowed the exchange to escalate. I found it in especially poor taste for the chairman to publicly advise a member of the audience on how to raise his children.

Also, as I prepared to make my own presentation, the meeting was ended, with no call for additional comments or speakers. I had previously submitted written comments to the DNFSB on the issues, but had hoped for the opportunity to present them to the community.

My comments would have noted the "chilled atmosphere towards safety" described throughout the DOE complex.

There have been areas of improvement, but the fatalities at ETTP and Idaho Falls, recent DNFSB findings, and the NaK explosion at Y-12 underscore the need for more effort in improving safety.

Also noted in my comments was the fear of reprisal for speaking out on health and safety related issues. This has improved somewhat, but if the DNFSB and inspector general's office do not hear these issues, they will assume there is no problem.

I have concerns of my own career stability for speaking out, but with the health and safety of the workers and community at possible risk, I feel it must be said.

This is a correctable situation, if all involved work together. I did not see this effort at the DNFSB meeting last month.

Glenn Bell
504 Michigan Ave.

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