that we did anything it took to cover everything up and get it all bought off . . . we were afraid for our jobs . . . and it wasn’t done properly. . . .” Torque seal became an issue for the Stiners also, both of whom testified that the “anti-sabotage sealant” was in the hands of craft personnel illegally; Darlene also said that she had been ordered by her superiors to “buy off’ sealed Hilti bolts already torqued by others. Once the seal is applied, it is supposed to guarantee that the bolt is tight and correctly installed, but the inspector is the only one qualified to test it. One Hilti bolt came out, bringing up a large chunk of concrete in the floor between the auxiliary and the safeguards building, Henry said, and was never reported to QC. When Henry’s foreman told him to repair a gouge in a pipe illegally, Henry balked. “The gouge mark was about 4″ long, 1/4″ deep and Vii” wide,” he testified. “My foreman whispered to me, ‘can’t you take one of the . . . rods, make a downhill pass, get it filled up, then grind the surface off, spray paint it with some red paint and nobody’d ever know it was there?’ I told him I’d rather not, so he got someone else. But while he was gone I called QC and reported it.” Later Stiner was fired for “excessive absences” while he was off work for minor surgery with a doctor’s excuse. Stiner also confirmed former QC inspector Bob Bronson’s testimony about “counterfeit hangers” made out of junk material. Henry said that investigator Herr “got very interested when I talked about those hangers made out of scrap material . . . he said that I could cost them [TU] millions of dollars . . . that counterfeit hangers is what got them shut down at the South Texas Project. . . .” Later the investigators discovered that all of the hangers Henry had identified had been taken down a few days after Henry talked to the NRC. \(If fact, a few months later, TU announced another cost-overrun: hundreds of millions of dollars would have to be spent, they said, to replace 6,000 to 8,000 pipe hanger supports due to “design Darlene Stiner, who was a certified welder before she inspected pipe supports, confirmed her husband’s testimony and added some: she was ordered by her supervisors to inspect the vendor welds on the diesel generators even though she did not feel qualified to do so and told her foreman, who told her to “do the best she could.” The “huge, complex” generators had been inspected prior to shipment but arrived, Darlene said, with welds “undercut and porosity . . . welds and supports on the design documentation were non-existent .. . we changed the [documentation] to show where the welds actually were . . . I rejected almost all the welds I inspected . . .” DARLENE STINER is 26 and pregnant with her second child. She is the only person to testify against TU who is still employed there. She wonders if she will have a job after she takes a leave to have her child. So far, she has never given B&R an excuse to fire her. Her personnel file is filled with glowing recommendations from her supervisors. While Henry argued, Darlene filled up a notebook with hanger numbers. Even those notes did not give the NRC investigators enough information, even though they asked for “specific areas, including hanger numbers.” Both Stiners agreed to testify for CASE because they were disturbed about the outcome of the NRC investigation. They had requested anonymity, but in the NRC’s second meeting with the Stiners at their home in Walnut Springs, the investigators drove up to their door in a government car clearly marked, just as Darlene arrived from work with several co-workers. “From that point on,” she said, “it didn’t seem like any promise of confidentiality would do any good.” Investigators Driskill and Herr refused Henry’s offer to show them specific areas of the plant where he could point out defective welds, so Darlene offered it, since she was still legitimately employed. They told her no, that she might get fired if she was seen with them. Yet the day after the meeting, Driskill was on site with his NRC hardhat on and made it a point to speak to her, singling her out from a group of workers. Then, before the hearings opened in September, Darlene was refused copies of the non-conformance reports she had written, even though it was standard policy for inspectors to get copies. B&R also refused to supply her with a copy of her training and personnel files and moved her four times in two days. She was finally sent to a small metal building, alone, with no phone, and given unimportant paper work to do. Finally, she was taken off QC altogether. In the early summer, Darlene was badly beaten in the back yard of her mobile home. She didn’t see the attacker, but knew it was a man. She suffered multiple bruises, cuts, and broken ribs. She has no idea who it was or why it happened; she does know that she had no -known enemies before she agreed to testify against B&R. On August 12, CASE received a telegram from TU’s attorney Nick Reynolds, stating, in part: “Mrs. Stiner . . . has been engaged in efforts during working hours to compile . . . information and documents for use by CASE [illegally] . . . you may be jeopardizing [her] employment . . . if you are directing . . . such activities. . . .” CASE immediately denied the charge that Darlene was stealing documents and requested a protective order from the Board, not only to protect Darlene Stiner’s job, but to keep other workers from being intimidated. The Board refused, saying it had no enforcement power. After the husband and wife team testified on September 13, daily issues of the Comanche Peak on-site newsletter, normally published only a few times a year, began to appear, naming Darlene and Henry and the others as “those having a grudge against management and their co-workers.” When Darlene tried to catch the workers’ bus from Walnut Springs, which she had ridden for five years, the other workers began to make obscene gestures, catcalls, and the driver told her he had no insurance for pregnant women; she couldn’t ride even though she had been riding all the months before during her pregnancy. As of this writing, she is still working; Henry . drives her the 12 miles to work each day and home each evening, delivering her to her onsite work place. She is still being shunned. Henry read an article recently about two witnesses at the Zimmer plant who were killed in an auto accident. They both know about Karen Silkwood, and the NRC investigators even warned them they could be physically hurt. They are both scared. Henry says “we’ll probably never be able to work at a nuclear plant again . . . but we’re justified in what we’re doing . . . if there is ever an accident at this plant, we’d be just as guilty as any of the parties mentioned.” Henry, too, has been unable to find work and believes he has been blacklisted. Darlene’s closing statement however was full of hope: “I believe that if they can’t build that plant right, then both containments ought to be filled with concrete . . . I don’t think that plant is worth one single human life. God gave us life and I don’t think it is right for anyone . . . Brown & Root : . . Texas Utilities . . . anyone, to take it away. I don’t think there’s a chance in China that I’ll get my job back after I have my baby, but I’m not going to worry about it . . . I will find something. It may not be with Brown & Root, but I’ll find something . . . and go on.” The Comanche Peak hearings will likely resume, the intervenors believe, THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9
You May Also Like
The Texas Rangers are tasked with investigating corruption and crimes by public officials. Those officials are rarely held accountable.