[ RadSafe ] Dresden senior reactor operator planned to rob an armored car

Clayton J Bradt CJB01 at health.state.ny.us
Tue Oct 29 09:14:49 CDT 2013


Clayton J. Bradt
Principal Radiophysicist
NYS Dept. of Health
 No: III-13-039 October 28, 2013
CONTACT: Viktoria Mitlyng 630-829-9662
Prema Chandrathil 630-829-9663

NRC Issues Orders to
Dresden Nuclear Plant and Former Plant Employees
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has issued a confirmatory order to
Exelon Generation Company, LLC for one incident involving violations of the
Behavioral Observation Program at the Dresden Nuclear Power Station. In
addition, the NRC issued orders prohibiting two former Dresden employees
involved in the situation from participating in nuclear work regulated by
the NRC. Dresden is located in Morris, Ill., 25 miles southwest of Joliet.
The NRC investigated the incident in which senior reactor operator Michael
J. Buhrman, planned to rob an armored car and recruited the assistance of
another senior reactor operator, Landon E. Brittain. The plan was not
carried out. However, Buhrman was apprehended for aggravated vehicular
carjacking and fled the country after being released on bail. He was tried
and sentenced in absentia. Brittain has a number of criminal charges
pending against him.
The NRC concluded that Buhrman’s and Brittain’s actions while offsite
demonstrated they could not be relied upon to adhere to NRC requirements to
protect plant and public safety. In addition, Dresden personnel who knew
about Buhrman’s plan to commit an offsite crime failed to report the
situation to plant management, which is an NRC requirement for workers who
have unescorted access to the plant.
“We expect nuclear workers to be trustworthy and feel responsible for plant
safety. This includes alerting management should they encounter
questionable behavior in other workers. Plants must have effective programs
and training to make sure employees adhere to these standards,” said NRC
Region III Administrator Cynthia D. Pederson. “The incident at Dresden
shows a failure to adhere to NRC requirements. This situation was unusual;
we do not normally encounter this type of egregious behavior in plant
workers. For this reason, the NRC has taken strong regulatory action
against the individuals involved and the plant. Exelon is taking steps to
address the problem and we will evaluate their effectiveness going
The confirmatory order to Exelon was issued as a result of the Alternative
Dispute Resolution process, which uses a mediator to assist the NRC and a
licensee to reach an agreement for a more effective use of the enforcement
process. The company agreed to abide by the conditions of the order
requiring a number of actions to ensure the NRC’s concerns will be
addressed. Some of the commitments include: enhancing the behavioral
observation program procedure at all Exelon nuclear plants; providing
training to company staff on the revision; evaluating the effectiveness of
the training; and developing a presentation of the facts and lessons
learned from this incident to be presented at industry forums.
Exelon agreed to address these issues according to the timelines
established in the order and to notify the NRC in writing upon completion
of specific actions.
The orders to Buhrman and Brittain prohibit them from participating in
NRC-licensed activities due to the NRC’s lack of confidence that they can
meet the agency’s safety requirements. The orders state, “This action is
necessary to provide the NRC with reasonable assurance that the protection
of public health and safety will not be compromised by your involvement in
NRC-licensed activities.”
The NRC’s confirmatory order to Exelon , orders to Buhrman and Brittain,
and the letter summarizing the results of the NRC’s investigation will be
available on the NRC’s website .

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