October 15, 2002
John F. Greenhalge
Dear Mr. Greenhalge,
Per my understanding of my professional responsibilities to public health, safety and welfare as a licensed professional engineer in the State of Tennessee (license No. 106350) and as a member of the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), and, even if it disavows me, the American Nuclear Society (ANS), I file this complaint against FirstEnergy Engineering, Inc, a licensed engineering firm, and the appropriate employed licensed engineers at the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Plant and elsewhere in FirstEnergy, the parent company. In particular I cite, the NSPE Board of Ethical Review case 01-03, which determined that:
'The NSPE Code of Ethics is a national code of ethics and this Board believes the NSPE Code obligates NSPE members to report ethical violations to the appropriate authorities in whatever jurisdiction the NSPE member observes the violation. This obligation is separate and apart from the obligation a professional engineer may have under state law.'
I file the complaint based on newspaper accounts of the violations of Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) rules in the operation and maintenance of the reactor, which contributed to unprecedented corrosion in the reactor vessel head. Newspaper accounts of this engineering fiasco, including the apparent management and engineering gross negligence, incompetence and/or other malfeasance that contributed to it, are available at the Cleveland Plain Dealer website.
It clearly seems that public health, safety and welfare were not properly protected by the involved licensed engineers and engineering firms, nor by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. I do not know more than the disturbing things I read in the newspaper, but it obviously involves engineering, and if the Ohio Engineering Board has not and/or will not get involved in investigating this matter, to ascertain if violations of Ohio Engineering law and regulation are present, then I must question its commitment and/or ability to perform its statutory duties to protect public health and safety in Ohio.
I now understand that no previous complaints about this matter have been filed with the Board. I must question if it is because of fear of workplace retribution by the licensed Ohio engineers, who work at Davis-Besse, prevents them from doing their legal duty, per Board rule at 4733-35-02, 03(A), and 07(C). I think the Board should investigate the licensed engineers at Davis-Besse, if only to ascertain why no complaints have been filed by any of them with the Ohio Board yet. I suspect fear of reprisal and skepticism about voicing concerns is a large part of why the fiasco first occurred, now it seems to be preventing the licensed engineers there from doing their legal duty to bring appropriate concerns to the Board attention.
If my suspicions are at all accurate, how can the Ohio Engineering Board allow the resumption of operations at Davis-Besse, without its voicing public safety concerns? How can Davis-Besse possibly be adequately safe for further operation if it is not fully characterized by trustworthy - ethical, competent, and accountable - nuclear professionals working in a safety and security conscious work environment? Since a good portion of the nuclear professionals at Davis-Besse and FirstEnergy are probably licensed engineers in the State of Ohio, doesn’t something seem to be seriously wrong if the Board has yet to receive a complaint involving any of those engineers, given the “strict honor code implementation basis” of the Ohio Engineering Board’s code of ethics for engineers?
I can understand the Ohio Engineering Board wanting detailed complaints to prevent its being sent on “fishing expeditions.” However, when it receives no complaints about a matter as serious and as obviously engineering-related as Davis-Besse’s corrosion incident, I think it should assume a skeptical, questioning attitude about the integrity of the professional engineers there and their compliance with the Ohio Board’s Code of Ethics for Engineers, if only to do its lawful duty in protecting Ohioans health and safety.
Joseph P. Carson, P.E.