United State Senator Ron Wyden is investigating the recent firing of a nuclear power plant whistleblower. The whistleblower worked for UBS Corporation for more than 44 years. He was employed at a nuclear facility on the west coast. Senator Wyden wrote a letter to the Energy Secretary about the circumstances surrounding the termination. In the letter he stated that not much has changed with respect to the protection of whistleblowers at nuclear and other facilities. The senator is concerned that whistleblowers who report safety concerns are being retaliated against. California whistleblower attorneys are also concerned about whistleblower retaliation.
According to URS, the whistleblower was laid off due to budget concerns. A spokesman for the company stated that although he would not comment on specific matters, URS has reduced its workforce in recent months due to budgetary constraints. The spokesman went on to say that URS encourages employees to come forward with concerns related to safety and that safety is a top priority at the company. California whistleblower attorneys say that whistleblower retaliation is problematic because employees with safety concerns will hesitate to come forward.
In this case, the whistleblower came forward with concerns regarding safety at a waste treatment plant. He was the manager at the facility. The facility produced plutonium for nuclear weapons for decades and now houses the nation’s largest radioactive waste deposits. The purpose of the waste treatment plant is to convert waste into glass for long term storage. After raising the safety concerns, he was removed from his position as construction manager. He was demoted from his position, but continued to work for UBS. The whistleblower complained that he was relegated to working in a basement cubicle with no meaningful work. The whistleblower contends that he was retaliated against and removed from his position because of the safety concerns that he raised. California whistleblower attorneys warn the public that whistleblower retaliation still happens, despite the fact that it is illegal.
Senator Wyden has pointed out that the whistleblower in this case had to sign a document releasing URS from any liability before they would provide severance pay. Lawsuits filed against URS and the U.S. Department of Energy were dismissed before trial. An appeal in this case is scheduled to be heard by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on November 7, 2013.
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