A group which represents professional engineers across the country has asked federal regulators to specifically look into reports that a contractor building an ill-fated nuclear project used unqualified individuals to approve reactor design changes.
The National Society of Professional Engineers sent a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Thursday calling for the agency to conduct a “thorough and complete investigation” into the shutdown of the V.C. Summer Nuclear Generation Station expansion in Fairfield County. A “professional engineer” (PE) is an individual specifically licensed in their field and requires additional work and certification beyond a four-year college degree.
The letter from President Tom Roberts states concerns about reports last month by the Charleston Post & Courier which found the project’s lead contractor was not using PEs to review and stamp their approval on some construction drawings. Such actions may be a violation of state construction laws. “Internal published documents also allege a deliberate attempt by Westinghouse attorneys to narrowly interpret South Carolina professional engineering statutes to evade generally accepted design and construction practices,” the letter states.
The same reports also noted the two utilities building the reactors — South Carolina Electric & Gas and state-owned Santee Cooper — were aware of Westinghouse’s actions.
“The public is best served when people are not only qualified from a technical standpoint, but have a clear safety obligation that overrides everything else,” Roberts said in an interview with South Carolina Radio Network.
Environmental groups have already asked the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation to investigate if Westinghouse violated the law by not having PEs stamp their approval on design changes.