Chicago Bridge & Iron is under increasing scrutiny from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. In the past month, the company division formerly part of Shaw Group has been cited for a poor safety culture at a Louisiana facility and for firing an employee who raised a safety concern at another site.
"We take these matters very seriously. CB&I will take immediate action to create and promote a healthy safety culture where all employees feel open to identify issues and express concerns," said CB&I spokeswoman Gentry Brann of the citations. "Our uncompromising focus is on safety, quality and an open work environment. It is not only CB&I's policy, but our practice."
The company must respond within 30 days, outlining the corrective actions it will take in response to the citations.
Additionally, the NRC has cited South Carolina Electric & Gas for an apparent violation related to the anchorage and spacing of rebar being used to reinforce concrete in a new nuclear unit of the V.C. Summer plant, which is being built for the utility by the former Shaw Group and Westinghouse.
In one safety-culture allegation, NRC noted a "chilled" work environment that prevented employees from voicing safety concerns at CB&I's modular facility in Lake Charles, La.
According to NRC, a survey and a follow-up investigation showed that 27% of the employees didn't feel comfortable raising quality concerns, 30% of the employees knew someone who had experienced a negative reaction for reporting a quality issue, and 37% did not believe the discipline policy was appropriate or fair.
NRC said that, after the 2012 survey, The Shaw Group took only minimal actions to remedy the findings of a chilled work environment.
NRC said of the 54 reports of safety allegations it received from all nuclear vendors in the nation between 2010 and 2012, a total of 19 were related to Shaw's Lake Charles facility. NRC is currently reviewing four of the allegations.
In another citation, which was issued on April 18, NRC's Office of Enforcement says a quality-assurance supervisor at Shaw subsidiary Shaw Nuclear Services was fired in May 2011 after notifying Shaw and Louisiana Energy Services of some potentially faulty rebar that may have been shipped to its National Enrichment Facility in New Mexico by a third-party vendor. NRC has proposed a civil penalty of $36,400 for the action.
NRC also cited CB&I for language in Shaw's corporate code of conduct that could discourage or prohibit employees from providing information to the NRC.
In issuing the citations, NRC mentions the change of management of the company. CB&I acquired Shaw in February. The NRC says CB&I is taking steps to reorganize the management at the Lake Charles facility. However, the NRC says some of the reorganization is being viewed by employees as further retaliation for raising safety concerns.
NRC has previously cited the Lake Charles facility for quality-control issues. South Carolina Electric & Gas and Georgia Power, which are building new nuclear reactors, said the issues delayed delivery of those prefabricated units to the construction sites.