Major Exposé: Abuse at U.S. nuclear plant contributed to multiple deaths? — Rash of severe illnesses — Reactor operators having suicidal thoughts at work

Published: March 12th, 2013 at 8:24 am ET
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Title: Echoes of Fukushima as toxic management erodes safety at Exelon’s Byron, ‘world’s safest’ nuclear plant
Source: The Japan Times
Author: Dreux Richard
Date: March 11, 2013
Emphasis Added

[...] Many of the [Byron Nuclear Generating Station's] personnel believe that abuse contributed to multiple deaths and a rash of severe illnesses. [...]

“It’s probably about 5 acres out there — the part where the shit happens,” one operator said. “Per square inch, those 5 acres produce more misery than any other five in the world, at least as far as nuke plants go.”

[...] the plant was even forced to reinstate its most erratic operator after terminating him because management had failed to adequately document numerous examples of his aberrant behaviors, including several instances of physical violence while on duty. [...]

A significant number of operators have entertained suicidal thoughts, often due to workplace stress, and often during their shifts, while they were operating Byron’s nuclear reactors. Many of these operators have avoided seeking help, fearing it could get them fired. [...]

On the severe illnesses:

The lack of regard for safety also affected working conditions for reactor operators. Several patterns of illness arose. At one time, three NSOs — all of whom had worked on the same shift — were diagnosed with sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease whose causes are still not clearly understood. The third operator to be afflicted was nearly crippled.

Examples of deaths:

Paul Busser

Paul was an NSO, and NSOs do shift work. Their schedules are like those of police officers or firefighters: several days (and/or nights) on, a few days off. [...] Paul was exhibiting persistent flulike symptoms. He started to drop weight, eventually losing almost 40 pounds [...] This went on for three months before Paul hanged himself in the shed behind his boyhood home. [...] on a night shift shortly before he took his own life, Paul was seen pacing the hallways near his old office, muttering to himself incomprehensibly.

Scott Fruin

Sometime around December 2008, Scott Fruin was Byron’s shift operations supervisor [...] when a reactor operator with a history of nodding off on the job fell asleep in the plant’s Work Control Center. [...] Sometime after the incident, Fruin accepted a demotion. Later in 2009, rumors began to circulate that Fruin had spoken with NRC officials about the sleeping operator. In the early hours of Sept. 10, he shot himself. He left a suicide note written on a notepad obtained in Lisle, Illinois, where the Midwestern NRC regional office is located, and where he’d been that day. At Fruin’s funeral, Byron’s plant manager, Brad Adams — along with Byron’s human resources manager — aggressively questioned Fruin’s loved ones about whether he had made any mention of work-related matters in the days and weeks leading up to his death.

Full report here

Published: March 12th, 2013 at 8:24 am ET
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17 comments

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17 comments to Major Exposé: Abuse at U.S. nuclear plant contributed to multiple deaths? — Rash of severe illnesses — Reactor operators having suicidal thoughts at work

  • AFTERSHOCK AFTERSHOCK

    hints of THX 1138 in the making. Wish there were a way (and a day) when humanity could walk away from this nightmare…not have to look back. Sad that these individuals are put under such duress for profit. Then you have to ponder, what catastrophe awaits the world when one of these 'units' goes postal? It's obvious, little is being done to screen these 'units' for potential threats to the operation of these facilities. They can't even approach the medical staff for assistance without risking their jobs? Hanging themselves out of desperation? We are so fucked…

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0066434/


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  • Time Is Short Time Is Short

    Another 'whistleblower' death?

    You know you're in trouble when they start installing hot tubs at NPP's.


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  • TheBigPicture TheBigPicture

    Nuclear plants have elevated radiation, which is very bad for people.


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  • jec jec

    One side effect of radiation is in mental changes. Wonder if the depression and anger shown by the US nuclear workers hints at a more terrible side effort of low level radiation. Heart attacks, diabetes, and mental changes..all part of the "package". Japan has seen rising suicides, depression in their citizen victims of the fallout from Fukushima. We should expect the same.


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  • Proton

    Title: Echoes of Fukushima as toxic management erodes safety at Exelon’s Byron, ‘world’s safest’ nuclear plant
    Source: The Japan Times
    Author: Dreux Richard
    Date: March 11, 2013
    Emphasis Added

    WOW wtf?
    Why is The Japan Times writing stories about problems at U.S. nuke plants?


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  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    Maybe it is a return favor to counter garbage like this.

    U.N. sees progress in boosting post-Fukushima nuclear safety

    http://news.yahoo.com/u-n-sees-progress-boosting-post-fukushima-nuclear-112925815.html


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  • RichardPerry

    Is it possible that there is a deep hidden safety problem caused by the employees that is bad and the employees are worried about being exposed for hiding it. There should be a intense search for a existing or potential problem.


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    • AFTERSHOCK AFTERSHOCK

      interesting thought RichardPerry. Regardless if the employees are given a 'safe' means of expressing issues, the owner/operators of these plants wouldn't act on any flags, as it's all about maximizing profit for shareholders. If the effort's made to address an employee's concerns, money would have to be spent on those safety programs. Profits are inversely affected by the potential array of issues that require addressing. Virtually every issue that effected the safety at Fukushima had been previously brought to the attention of TEPCO. Few, if any, were ever implemented. (This, was discussed at the symposium yesterday.) Putting profit before safety is endemic to the disease of nuclear power…


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