At a time when the nuclear industry has been pushing for the construction of more reactors, an industry leader, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA,) suffered a serious setback when the head of its $2.5 billion construction project at the Watts Bar 2 nuclear plant near Knoxville, TN, left his position after the Department of Labor found that he had terminated an employee for raising safety concerns, and that he used substantial project funds for personal use. The TVA will not confirm that Masoud Bajestani, the project leader, had either resigned or been terminated. “All we’re saying is he’s no longer with us,” said TVA spokesman Scott Brooks.
In 1994 Bajestani fired Robert Klock, the lead startup engineer on the project, weeks after Klock had raised concerns first with the TVA which were largely ignored, and later with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, that, among other things, the emergency radiation containment system in use was insufficient to protect employees and the public from radiation in case of a shutdown. Though Bajestani claims to have terminated Klock for truancy and unauthorized overtime use, a subsequent Department of Labor investigation found that Klock’s termination “was a deliberate retaliation,” that Bajestani had lied about his knowledge of Klock’s complaints to the NRC, and that Klock “has shown by the clear preponderance of evidence that those reasons, as enumerated by Bajestani, did not actually motivate his discharge.”
Bajestani was also found to have withdrawn $1.5 million from his deferred compensation account with the TVA by claiming a financial hardship that didn’t exist in order to buy land in his native Iran.
Read more about the issue here.”