published Sunday, January 30th, 2011

TVA fires Watts Bar project manager

  • photo
    Staff Photo by Dan Henry Construction continues on TVA's Unit 2 reactor at Watts Bar Nuclear Plant near Spring City, Tenn.

The Tennessee Valley Authority fired the head of America's biggest nuclear power plant construction project on Friday with the $2.5 billion program still two years away from completion.

Masoud Bajestani, one of TVA's top nuclear managers in charge of completing the Unit 2 reactor at the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant, left the Spring City, Tenn., plant Friday afternoon when his five-year contract for the Watts Bar project was terminated after less than four years.

TVA Communications Vice President David Mould said Bajestani's departure "was not related to his work on the Watts Bar project." But he declined to discuss why Bajestani was dismissed.

Bajestani, a Chattanooga resident who was living near the Watts Bar plant in Rhea County, could not be reached Saturday.

TVA senior project manager Marie Gillman was appointed interim manager for the Watts Bar project, according to TVA spokesman Terry Johnson.

Mould said the change in leadership shouldn't delay the utility's plan to finish the new reactor and begin generating power at the new unit in 2013.

"The project is going extremely well and is on time and on budget," Mould said.

Bajestani is a 54-year-old nuclear engineer from Iran who previously helped direct the restart and rebuilding of TVA's Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in Athens, Ala. He was appointed in 2007 to direct the completion of the unfinished Unit 2 reactor at Watts Bar, which Mould said is on scheduled and on budget.

Bajestani earned $619,000 in income and bonuses, according to testimony in his divorce proceedings last year. He testified in that case that he also was eligible for performance bonuses and at least another year on his contract beyond 2012 if the new reactor is completed as scheduled.

TVA began building the Unit 2 reactor at Watts Bar in 1974 but suspended work in 1985 until the project was revived in 2007. The unit is scheduled to be the first new commercial reactor completed in the United States in the 21st century and will be capable of supplying the power needs of two cities the size of Chattanooga.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 757-6340.

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InfoSnooper said...

I could never understand how he was the head of a Startup of a nuclear power plant and he was allowed to travel home to see his father (in Iran). I have been told his father is a high up official in large construction projects in Iran presently.

It indeed is very interesting that he was so quickly moved out of the way, when this Unit 2 plant is currently in a very important part of construction completion and Startup commencement.

There is alot more to this story and I hope that the media does its job an find out some of the truths that TVA has not seemed willing to disclose. For TVA to have a very highly compensated and knowledgable person in the resurgence of nuclear power in the area, be swept away is highly unusual for any corporate structure.

January 30, 2011 at 1:04 p.m.
VoiceOfTruth said...

Mr. Bajestani is a wonderful manager and has helped TVA's nuclear program tremendously. Without his knowledge, expertise and dedication to the agency, TVA's nuclear program would still be struggling to regain prominence within the industry. He is someone who not only cared about the job-at-hand, but he was deeply concerned about the individuals who were performing the work. Mr. Bajestani was a great leader and because of his relationship with the employees, it made the work force to want to do their best. I felt Mr. Flessner had no business including in the article that Mr. Bajestani was of Iranian ancestory, nor that he had gone through a divorce last year. This is information that, from the information provided by TVA, was not relevent to the news article. This type of unnecessary reporting could lead someone to develop opinions or conjure assumptions that are not true.

January 31, 2011 at 10:33 a.m.
WorkHard said...

His divorce became public information and his blatant disregard for Federal tax code (by lying about his emergency disbursement of funds) and by funneling that money to Iran shows his utter disregard for the rules and regulations of the same government he was employed by. Sending money and visiting Iran while being a site vice president of the only nuclear power plant under construction in the United States was at the least foolish. Is it not illegal to send money to Iran? He could not do it directly from this country so he had to funnel the money through a family member in Canada. He stated in his divorce he is buying property in Iran. Can an American citizen own property in Iran? That would be bad enough but this man was the site vice president for the Tennessee Valley Authority at a multibillion dollar project and had access to plant secrets that he could have easily sent to Iran. His divorce is public information and accessible online. He hid thousands of dollars and send hundreds of thousands to Iran. I work at Watts Bar and have for many years. I am glad to see him gone.

February 1, 2011 at 12:18 a.m.
VoiceOfTruth said...

WorkHard - I have learned in over 30 years with TVA, if an employee did not appreciate the leadership qualities and dedication of a senior/executive manager, it was primarily because said manager was requiring the workforce to W O R K. The manager did not tolerate horse play, laziness, incompetent workers, or foolishness. Mr. Bajestani was such a manager - he wanted everyone to live up to their own potential, he was always raising the bar so employees would better themselves, and he wanted the workers to not only take pride in their work performance, but to accept ownership for it as well. Any one who is glad to see him leave TVA, probably doesn't deserve to work for TVA. Mr. Bajestani was an example of what leadership, management, and concern for your fellow man is all about. He financially contributed generously to the CFC and any other fundraising activity being conducted at the work site. Regardless of the fact the divorce court files are 'public knowledge' it is a gross invasion of privacy for the contents to be subjected to unknowing, uncaring, thoughtless people to read and turn the information around to imply 'wrong doing' was done. I am glad to be able to call Mr. Bajestani a friend and is a far better person than what the media and people like you are trying to paint him to be. He deserves all the respect and dignity one can offer another human being. How this entire situation has been handled is nothing short of character assassination.

February 1, 2011 at 2:22 p.m.
Truthy said...

Voiceof truth, You couldnt put it in words any better. So sad to see him leave, TVA would suffer its loss greatly. He was extremly knowledgable and a hard working manager. People have to understand that he was trying to hide assets from his wife during divorce. What that has to do with his proformance and dedication to TVA and this country? To clear one more lie, his fathre is a 98 years old retired math teacher in Iran. He has never been part of the current government. Shame on TVA for handeling the way they handled the whole situation.

February 1, 2011 at 5:13 p.m.
hambone said...

I don't know this man but I know there are no TVA secrets that would help Iran.

If this man wanted to help Iran's nuclear program he would be over there rather than working to help TVA.

February 1, 2011 at 5:43 p.m.
fairmon said...

Is it true some TVA employees are not allowed to look out their office windows before noon because they would then have nothing to do after noon? As tolerant as the TVA is and the rarity of termination for any reason suggest there is something supporters and the rest of us don't and won't know and probably don't need to know. This article increases curiosity and speculation but most of us will not remember the event next week.

February 2, 2011 at 6:53 a.m.
needtoknow said...

TVA needs to investigate how he has forced employees to "cook the books" in the past in order to meet his performance goals and thus receive his bonus.

February 2, 2011 at 11:16 a.m.
WorkHard said...

Voice of Truth, I am neither lazy, incompentent nor foolish and I come to work to WORK. I find your remarks that because I am "glad" to see him go I do not deserve to work for TVA to be a rude and offensive remark to every craftsman who comes here everyday to get Unit 2 online. I was here when they threw the switch and put Unit 1 into commercial operation and I worked hard for years to see that happen. Mr. Bajestani has violated state and federal law on several different instances (Lying about his "property hardship to obatin money, sending that money to Iran to invest in a property in Tehran, violating restrating orders during his divorce) and I am quite sure that throwing a telephone in a meeting with Westinghouse employees was some other type of infraction that would cause him to lose his position. His divorce is online if anyone doubts this that he testified under oath that he sent $600,000 to Tehran, Iran to "specifically buy some property back in Tehran". Look it up yourself.

February 3, 2011 at 1:36 a.m.
VoiceOfTruth said...

Work Hard - You're a craft person - that tells me all I need to know. Well it took you long enough to get Unit 1 commerical - how long was it 20+ years? Guess you were the only one W O R K I N G up there. I'm sure in all your years with TVA you have never committed fraud, thief, done anything unethical, or anything immoral. I've read the divorce documents - the only thing he showed me was what a mistake he made by marrying someone so greedy. I'm sure if you had $600,000 and could send it to your family to help them, you'd get it to them regardless of what means it took. Mr. Bajestani made a mistake - people need to stop assassinating him. He is one of the most generous, caring managers that has ever worked for TVA. He doesn't deserve to have his name dragged through the mud. I'm through responding to your perfidious comments - they are rather moronic.

February 3, 2011 at 1:38 p.m.
GarryMorgan said...

Sloppy Work, not something you want to hear concerning a nuclear plant. Reference letter-Nuclear Regulatory Commission, NRC, Letter Dated Jan. 27, 2011 Subject: Watts Bar Nuclear Plant Unit 2, Status of Operating License Review PDF link: http://richmedia.onset.freedom.com/wtvc/lfy7c7-wb2statusoperatinglicense.pdf

Serious issues as to "timeliness and quality" of the required documentation submitted to the NRC for the appropriate licensing. A sloppy TVA Nuclear Division, is not an acceptable trait for managers in assuring the safety of citizens in the TVA operating area.

February 3, 2011 at 2:31 p.m.
WorkHard said...

If no one was working how did it get built? Did it appear by magic? Of course it did not. What you are probaly ignorant of is all the changes that Watts Bar was forced to make in the middle of the construction. there was Chernobyl and Three Mile Island and the fire in the Spreader Room at Browns Ferry. Those incidents caused the NRC and TVA to make changes to the plant that added years to the project. Many of the problems were blamed on craft were in fact engineering blunders and lies told by supervision. If you read the divorce document he said he was sending to money to Iran to invest it not to help his family. So if it is ok with you to send $600,000 to a country that considers itself an enemy of this country then you should hop the next plane and move there. He was not caring and generous to the people whose blood, sweat, and tears built this job. He could care less about the craft workers who put this place online. By your tone you are the same. I am not a moron but you seem to support a man who violates federal law.

February 4, 2011 at 2:56 a.m.
Coalf1eld said...

This man has had trouble no matter where he worked. Was in Nuclear got ran off from there. They gave him a job over Fossil Eastern Division. Didn't last there either. Sent back to Nuclear. WAKE UP TVA THERE ARE CAPABLE PEOPLE HERE IN THE VALLEY TO DO THESE JOBS. THEY HAVE GOT MANAGERS FROM EVERYWHERE, UP NORTH, DUKE POWER, FLORIDA POWER. THAT'S JUST TO NAME A FEW. THE BOARD NEEDS TO WAKE UP AND KEEP THE JOBS FOR THE TENN. VALLEY.

February 4, 2011 at 12:31 p.m.
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