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by Selina Bendix
If you think that the AEC’s concern for reactor safety can be counted upon to protect you from the potential hazards of a nuclear power plant, then consider the following case history in which two men have already died because of criminal negligence.
June 6, 1968: Virginia Electric and Power Company (Vepco) begins construction of a 788,000 kilowatt nuclear power plant on Hog Island, 15 miles NE of Surry, Virginia. Welding work is undertaken by Stone and Webster Engineering Corporation of Boston.
February 1970: Stone and Webster hire welding engineer Carl Huston, who finds ‘thousands’ of unsatisfactory welds. Huston’s immediate boss tells him to ignore the problem. Huston writes to his Boston office — no reply. Huston writes to Virginia Dept. of Labor — no reply. Huston is fired and blacklisted from work for utilities. Huston writes the Governor of Virginia, receives a reply one year later acknowledging that the AEC found deficiencies and thanking him.
July 6, 1970: Huston writes AEC — no reply. Huston writes his Senators (Gore and Baker) who prod AEC.
July 21-22, 1970: AEC lawyer and metallurgist, neither with knowledge of welding, confer with Huston and accept 8 ‘allegations’ of improper welds (Huston found 568 serious deficiencies in the welding). They threaten Huston with jail if his information is false.
November 1970: Huston goes to Washington to work on AEC, gets ·nowhere, gives story to press.
April 1971: Senator Mike Gravel reads Huston article into the Congressional Record.
May 1971: Southwest Research Institute of San Antonio verifies Huston charges: Vepco cuts out 224 bad welds, others simply ‘covered up.’
August 1971: AEC writes Vepco that original 8 flaws have not been corrected and lists another 40 deficiencies to be corrected.
January 17, 1972: AEC Divisions of Regulation and Compliance sign waivers on all deficiencies, effectively certifying Unit 1 of Surry Power safe.
March 20-21, 1972: Public hearing before AEC Safety and Licensing Board — Huston is the only professional speaking against licensing.
May 1, 1972: Surry plant started up.
July 27, 1972: Steam line ‘malfunctions.’
July 31, 1972: Employee Roger Woods dies as a result of the incident.
August 1, 1972: Employee William Van Duyn dies as a result of the incident.
How many people will die when the primary containment welds give out?