Stone & Webster Construction Inc. will pay $6.2 million to the federal government to settle a multi-year investigation into alleged improper recordkeeping of injuries and site safety under a $10-billion long-term contract with the Tennessee Valley Authority for modifications and maintenance work at nuclear plant sites in Tennessee and Alabama.
The U.S. Justice Dept. announced the settlement Jan. 22 with Stone & Webster, based in Stoughton, Mass. and a subsidiary of Baton Rouge, La.-based The Shaw Group since 2000.
The settlement also requires Stone & Webster to enter into a first-of-its kind comprehensive two-year monitoring agreement with TVA's Office of Inspector General to insure that the firm implements a compliance and ethics program applicable to its work for the federal utility. The "corporate integrity and monitoring agreement" is the first such pact in TVA history between its IG and a utility contractor, according to the government.
The settlement resolves all allegations in the probe against Stone & Webster, but the IG and James R. Dedrick, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, are continuing to investigate individuals involved in the matter.
The Justice Dept. says that from 2003 to 2006, Stone & Webster misclassified and understated the number and severity of employee injuries to support its safety-related contracting performance goals. The contractor has broad-ranging contracts with TVA to perform work, including engineering and design services to restart the utility’s shuttered nuclear units and to provide ongoing maintenance at other TVA nuclear plants.
Dedrick did not disclose additional detail on the allegations against Stone & Webster related to its on-the-job injury records at TVA sites, but the firm was cited in 2007 by the U.S. Labor Dept.'s Occupational Safety and Health Administration for mishandling those records.
According to OSHA, Stone & Webster was fined $153,600 for failing to report 84 incidents in 2004, 2005 and 2006 involving company maintenance worker injuries at Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant; Sequoyah Nuclear Plant, Soddy Daisy, Tenn.; and Watts Bar Nuclear Plant, Spring City, Tenn.
OSHA was made aware of the problem by TVA, which noticed discrepancies on the OSHA 300 Log used to record work-related injuries and illnesses. OSHA regulations require employers to maintain records of fatalities, injuries and illnesses and post a summary of these incidents each year at job sites.
The company was cited for failing to record injuries and illnesses in 2004, 2005 and 2006 at the Browns Ferry site for failing to accurately record injuries that resulted lost days from work and restricted work activity at the facility.
OSHA also cited for similar recordkeeping errors for the years 2004, 2005 and 2006 at Sequoyah and 2004 and 2006 at Watts Bar.
Additionally, a 2007 audit by the TVA Inspector General questioned the $895,000 the TVA paid to Stone & Webster for safety rewards during the restart of Unit 1 of Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in Athens, Ala. A TVA official later said the monetary awards had been discontinued."