Feds charge TVA contractor at nuclear reactor site

By: Mario Boone Email
By: Mario Boone Email

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, Bill Killian, personally announcing at a press conference Monday criminal charges against Matthew Correll over construction of TVA's newest nuclear reactor at Watts Bar.

"The indictment charges Mr. Correll with knowingly and willfully making false statements," said Killian. In documents submitted to the TVA. Prosecutors say Correll lied about measuring cables used to power safety systems and performing inspections at the reactor. "And falsely completed the forms required by TVA, providing them with false measurements for the cables," Killian said.

Prosecutors say the falsification is very serious because in the event of a problem at the reactor, the cables would power containment equipment. "My office will prosecute anyone who violates federal law by cutting corners in the construction, maintenance, or operation of nuclear facilities."

As for TVA, the massive power company says mulitple layers of checks and balances exposed the shoddy work. But also says failure to detect this problem could've posed a significant danger.

"It could've been, but that's all hypothetical. We actually have processes in place that are designed to do exactly this," said Ashok Bhatnagar, TVA vice president of nuclear construction.

This isn't the first problem at Watts Bar. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission in January raised concerns over errors in documents TVA submitted on fire safety at the site. Still, Killian says the public should rest easy.

"TVA has assured me that these deficiencies have been discovered and remedied, and that there's no harm to the general public."

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