Initial Investigation (Phase 1 of 2) Concludes

Mike Paoli, Public Affairs, 509-377-4164
Carla Martinez, Public Affairs, 509-372-5156


RICHLAND, Wash. – The first phase of a months-long investigation by a Washington, D.C. law firm hired by the executive board, concluded with the issuance of a detailed Phase 1 report at a meeting of EN’s executive board. The investigation was spurred by anonymous letters to Energy Northwest board members.

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman identified six specific allegations and one general work environment allegation in the initial anonymous letter, and additional concerns raised in a subsequent letter. Altogether four letters were received and assigned to Pillsbury for investigation. A fifth letter was received by the board and will be dispositioned with an internal EN investigation. The six specific allegations as well as the concerns raised in letter four are addressed in Pillsbury’s report released today by the board.

“In the world of nuclear energy, it’s important that every voice be heard at all times. That’s how we sustain safety and how we improve,” said executive board chair Sid Morrison. “We as board members now have a responsibility to review these findings and recommendations and in collaboration with senior leadership develop a corrective action plan.”

In its Phase 1 report, Pillsbury substantiated some of the allegations raised to the board. The report also presents several recommendations to improve organizational performance and communication. Importantly, although not specifically within the scope of the investigation, Pillsbury informed the board that it found no nuclear safety concerns.

Phase 2 (final phase) of Pillsbury’s investigation, which will address the general work environment allegation, is in the final stages and will be issued later this summer.

The Pillsbury team, which included a former commissioner at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, interviewed approximately 50 individuals and reviewed hundreds of documents.

The board is releasing this Phase 1 report, in its entirety, to the public as well asthe briefing presentation that Pillsbury provided to the board this morning.

Morrison said he is confident that any concerns raised in future anonymous letters can be handled through processes provided by Energy Northwest or the NRC.

“The most appropriate venue to address plant-related and employee-related issues is through our internal programs, such as the employee concerns program, the Ask Senior Management program or the corrective action program. The NRC is also available. All of which preserve anonymity,” Morrison said. “Senior EN leadership is also available through an ‘open door’ policy to hear concerns and act on them, when necessary.”

Columbia Generating Station, an 1,190-megawatt boiling water reactor owned and operated by Energy Northwest, produces enough electricity to power a city the size of Seattle and is the third largest generator of electricity in Washington state.

All of Columbia’s electricity is sold at-cost to Bonneville Power Administration. The 92 utilities that receive a portion of Columbia’s output are located in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and California.

To access the Phase 1 report, click here.

About Energy Northwest                                                                                                  
Energy Northwest develops, owns and operates a diverse mix of electricity generating resources, including hydro, solar and wind projects – and the Northwest’s only nuclear power facility. These projects provide enough reliable, affordable and environmentally respon­sible energy to power more than a million homes each year, and that carbon-free electricity is provided at the cost of generation. As a Washington state, joint action agency, Energy Northwest comprises 27 public power member utilities from across the state serving more than 1.5 million ratepayers. The agency continually explores new generation projects to meet its members’ needs.