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doing well by the normal measures of promotions and raises in pay, when he was fired last August after being questioned by superiors about bribery allegations against him. The NRC investigated the charges and was unable to substantiate them. Swayze, who claims that he was actually dismissed because he was a stickler for proper procedure, has sued Brown & Root and his former supervisor, alleging libel, slander, and wrongful discharge. He will be the key witness for the contentions of one of the interveners in the upcoming proceedings on HL&P’s request for a license to plug STNP reactor units 1 and 2 into the electric power grid of South Central Texas. Neither Brown & Root nor HL&P would comment on these charges. HL&P’s Parsons would say only that “Mr. Swayze and his association with Brown & Root is business between the two of them and really not that of HL&P. That’s especially so because of the suit he has filed.” And Brown & Root referred the Observer to its attorney, William Brown, who prepared this statement: “Mr. Swayze was not discharged for soliciting a bribe. He was discharged as stated on his record for `apparent misconduct in performance of dutylack of confidence required for a sensitive position of critical importance.’ This was because of his failure to cooperate by giving a sworn statement denying the accusation which he did deny informally.” The fired inspector is still much talked about at the plant. And some workers still employed there, like Swayze himself, attribute his firing last summer to an incident that had occurred a short while before. Exercising his authority as lead safety inspector for reactor unit 1, they say, Swayze forced Brown & Root to tear out and rebuild all the concrete forms and reinforcing steel for the first ten-foot-high section of the secondary shield wall that will stand between the reactor vessel and the outer containment shell. According to this account, he believed the work was substandard and unsafe, but his action caused further delay and a substantial increase in construction costs. Brown & Root spokesman Beeth, however, disputes this incident’s importance. He says that only some wooden forms had to be torn down, causing a delay of only about five days. He also says the decision was made not by Swayze but by his supervisor, so the whole thing wasn’t such a big deal certainly not enough to have triggered the inspector’s dismissal. r ir he overriding inspection problem at STNP, according to Swayze and a senior Brown & Root engineer still employed at the plant, is a safety system that emphasizes form over substance. They maintain that the primary purpose of the voluminous documentation of construction and inspection processes is to fulfill the paperwork requirements for HL&P’s operating license application now pending before the NRC. In other words, says the engineer, “If the blanks are all filled in and the paper is in order when the job is done, they [HL&P and its partners in the utility consortium] will get their license.” But, he and Swayze say, making sure all the blanks are filled in does not necessarily guarantee that the plant will be safe to operate and, in fact, may have the opposite effect. For example, says the senior engineer, “There was no follow-up on inspection reports. The eighth lift problem [the holes discovered ..5,.. uclear oversight By Vicki Vaughan ,r . Austin Bad news about the South Texas Nuclear Project has been no news, as far as Houston’s two major newspapers are concerned. Though Houston is the home of STNP’s managing partner, Houston Lighting & Power Company, and HL&P’s customers have a direct stake in the future of the nuclear power plant being built 90 miles away in Matagorda County, coverage of the Nuke’s construction and inspection slip-ups has been spotty at best since the first of the year. In the last two months, news of construction trouble that has made front-page headlines and prompted detailed stories in Austin, San Antonio, and Corpus Christi dailies has been given scant mention by the Post and entirely ignored by the Chronicle, an examination of these papers reveals. Major STNP stories reported elsewhere but underreported or unreported in the Post and the Chronicle include the discovery in June of air pockets in the reactor unit 1 containment wall that led to a construction halt; Congressman Henry B. Gonzalez’s call for a federal investigation of STNP based on serious allegations by former employees that the project’s quality control program is deficient; and the discovery that over a thousand of the wrong kind of anchor bolts had been used on pipes meant to carry radioactive water. Environmental writers at both papers contend that these stories did not merit much coverage. The most striking example of out-of-kilter news judgment has been at the Chronicle, where lack of coverage of the ongoing STNP story has amounted to a virtual news. blackout. A thorough check of the Chronicle’s news columns since January 1, 1979, turned up not a single by-lined STNP story, though there were a few unsigned pieces and snippets of wire service copy. Moreover, not since April has the newspaper run even so much as one STNP-related story; the only published articles were confined to the paper’s reporting on Austin’s decision, in a city-wide referendum, to keep its share of the Nuke. For the last two months, reporting on the plant’s construction problems has been nonexistent. “You keep talking about serious problems, but it may be that our definition of serious problems or how we perceive a serious problem may differ,” said Chronicle science writer Carlos Byars. Byars maintains that he has written about interveners’ charges of irregularities in the quality control program along with other stories about the plant’s woes. He could not, however, provide the dates of these stories. When the Observer managed to reach him by telephone at home he said he did not have access to his clip file there. When the request was repeated in a follow-up call to his office, Byars said his city editor told him to refer the Observer’s inquiries to Don Pickles, the Chronicle’s managing editor. Three calls found Pickles inaccessible, and he never called back. Byars did acknowledge that he hasn’t kept up with STNP lately. “I have not followed it [STNP] in the past couple of months. I have not been down there beating on their door dayto-day. I have had other things to cover.” He added that though STNP stories do not appear to him to merit “high priority” now, “perhaps it has not been high enough. I’ll have to look at it 6 JULY 13, 1979