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Lanny Sinkin, leader of Citizens Concerned about Nuclear Power, says the burden is on STNP’s builders to prove the plant is safe. control system. As long ago as March 1975 the NRC noted inadequacies in the measures taken by Brown & Root to monitor construction and detect errors. In May 1977 the agency reported that an unqualified inspector had been monitoring concrete “pours.” Welding infractions had been spotted the month before, and HL&P notified the NRC in May that Brown & Root inspectors had been “reinstructed” in procedures for checking the welds. But problems persisted in both concrete pouring and welding: in January 1978 the NRC issued a “notice of violation” for “failure to follow procedures during concrete placement” at STNP’s fuel handling buildings, where new fuel and spent fuel rods filled with radioactive material are to be stored; the following March federal investigators cited deficiencies in welding inspection records. Two NRC reports in April of last year revealed that some inspection records were simply unreliable. According to one of these reports, “. . . the inspector observed that the bolted joint of four structural beams to column 103 . . . in the Unit 1 containment was only partially inspected as confirmed by the responsible [quality control] inspector, yet the record print . . . was marked indicating that the inspection was completed. . . .” The other states: “The IE Inspector observed that although Unit No. 2 containment liner weld seam No. 95 . . . had been partially prepared for welding, fabrication check list, FCL 2th-17.0 had been signed indicating that preparation was complete and the seam was ready for welding. This is an infraction.” Interspersed among the NRC findings of construction flaws and inspection lapses are several references to the inadequacy of the overall “quality assurance/quality control” process at the work site. A series of meetings has been held between NRC officials from the agency’s regional office in Arlington and managers of the construction project to review the errors and figure out how to keep them from happening again. Brown & Root’s Beeth points out that most of the past errors have come to some sort of resolution: “We now owe NRC no responses. There are three infractions outstanding, but we feel we have handled them and they are only outstanding pending NRC follow-up. We do have four or five outstanding ‘concerns’ from the NRC. The last inspection showed no new items.” Judging from the most recently available NRC reports, however, new problems do keep cropping up. One reason for the persistence of construction and inspection mistakes appears to be generally tense and often downright hostile relations between quality control personnel and construction crews. The NRC has cited “low morale among [quality assurance and quality control] personnel” in its inspection and enforcement reports, and workers and residents in the area confirm it. The NRC’s Clyde Wisner acknowledges that dissension exists and that Brown & Root has experienced “personnel problems.” Part of the difficulty seems to derive from the inevitable friction between foremen with construction deadlines to meet and quality control inspectors who, in Wisner’s words, hold “a hammer over their heads.” Some examples of the friction are noted in an August 1978 NRC report describing an investigation of complaints from Brown & Root quality control inspectors about inadequate training in new procedures, inaccessibility of upper management, and pressure from construction crews. According to this NRC report, five unnamed inspectors “made statements to the effect that, they had written NCRs [nonconformance reports] which were rejected for no reason; the QC [quality control] inspectors wrote NCRs and were accused of ‘nit picking’; the QA [quality assurance] engineer’s interpretation of specs, codes or standards cancels out the NCR; the QC inspector’s decisions regarding NCRs are overridden by the QA engineer; and there are occasions when QC inspectors are instructed not to submit NCRs when they point out valid deficiencies.” In investigating this, the NRC inspectors found that they “could not substantiate, by review of documentation or direct observation, the specific examples. . . .” But they continued. “However, the conditions described by the QC inspectors suggest that the NCR reporting system has weaknesses.” Jim Parsons, an HL&P spokesman, concedes that workers are under constant pressure to finish their jobs, and that this makes for tension between the ones who are building the plant and the ones who are supposed to make sure it’s safe. But then, he says, “We don’t want such a good relationship that the inspectors might overlook something.” According to Dan Swayze, a former quality control inspector for Brown & Root, the problems with inspection procedures are much more serious than Parsons’ remarks would suggest. Swayze had been monitoring concrete pouring for two years at STNP, and was THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5